Wednesday, December 13, 2006

septa lessons, again

it wasn't my usual bus stop. i was there because i realized after work that i needed to buy some tokens for the next day, which took me up the street to another stop on busy market street. there were already a few people there, waiting with their shopping bags or getting off from work. a bus came, a bus left, and then there were only two - an old man and me. i heard somebody hollering and looked away from my gaze down the street to see if my bus was coming.

there was a group of boys - young men, really - walking together down the street, maybe about three or four of them. as they were walking, a man was hollering, "young baw! yo! that's my young baw!!! hey man, how you doin'. my young baw!" (to those not fluent in philly-ese, the guy was saying something to the effect of, hey, it's my peoples/friend/homie. "baw"="boy". now you know.) there were smiles all around, and the older guy gripped up the youngin like he hadn't seen him in a long time. though not involved, i smiled too. i love public displays of affection (especially among brothas) , even if they are loud. i noticed that the young dude didn't really seem to recognize the man who was greeting him, but i guess he figured, hey, no harm done. the boys continued on.

so did the loud man, who was walking in my direction.

there were two women sitting on a bench not far from me, having a smoke together and talking. they looked like they had been shopping and were taking a break. the loud man approached them and bent down from the waist to their level on the bench so that his face was on level with theirs. his face was less than two feet from theirs.

"hey, how you doing!" he boomed.

i couldn't see their faces from my vantage point, but i was guessing that he didn't know them, and that they didn't know him. they were white, in another age group, and were obviously together. my guess? he got a blank stare from the both of them.

the second time he greeted them, it was as if he was reproaching them for their rudeness.

"hel-lo! how are yooouuu! happy holl-idays!"

he got some sign of life from them at that point, and he went on talking to them. i looked down the street to see if my bus was coming. chances were, if he was trying to move his way up the block, i was next, and i really didn't feel like the bull isht. i was hoping the bus would come before i wound up arguing with him.

suddenly my attention was grabbed back from looking for the bus:

"well, fcuk you then!" as he walked away, backwards from the women.

"no, fcuk you!"

"fcuk you!"

"i'm not the one, walking down the street, begging people for isht!"

"i ain't beg you for nothin, i asked you! you racist bitch!"

"why do i have to be racist 'cause i didn't let you smoke on my cigarette! go get your own!" as her girlfriend picks up her shopping bag and pleads with her, wordlessly, to shut up and come walk with her away from the bench.

"fcuk you!"

"fcuk YOU!"

he walked away. they walked away.

my bus came, and i looked incredulously at the old man who had been standing there when i arrived. his facial expression remained unchanged. i wonder, was that a function of being old and having seen much, or was it just 'cause he's used to seeing stuff like that?

bitten bottom lip

i haven't been going to the open mics any more often than i've been writing on my blog. i'm forced to examine whether or not all this writing was just a phase or if this current inactivity is a phase.

i've been writing all my life, it's just that some times have been more intense than others. ask my diary. i started my first volume in 1987. i don't think i've written in it since spring. ask my marble composition notebook. i haven't written a new poem in at least a month. but if you flip through either my poetry or my diary, you'll see that it wasn't always this way.

lately, i've been too busy living, or being tired from living, to write. i'm working at work, so that means no blogging from the job. i'm busy at home, trying to keep up with friends and family, trying to keep my house clean, my business straight, enjoying a relationship that any reader should have known was bound to happen to me...

i mean, did i talk it up? did i will this happiness to come to pass? or was this bound to happen, and somehow my intuition felt it coming? i suppose i'll never know, but in my piscean view of the world, i can't help but to think that it was a little bit of both - fate and longing burning at both ends of a string, meeting and exploding at just the right place and time. i feel like i've found a safe space in the world. a shelter from the winds of worry. a peaceful haven. and i'm truly happy - bubbling, smiling to myself with no explanation to curious passersby.

it's really nice, when i'm hitting my after-lunch-'itis-what-time-is-it-anyway slump in mid-afternoon, to have someone to think of - the thought of whom gives me just the boost i need to make it to the end of the workday. really, really, really nice.

a friend of mine warned me not to fall off just cause i got arms to fall into. he says it happens to all the lady poets. they get all hugged up, or married, or mothered, and then you don't see them anymore. the defiance in me wants to vehemently deny that this is what's going on with me. i actually have not been inspired to write poetry lately. blogs, yes - but not poetry. i'm tired of my own poetry. the few times i've been to open mics, i've flipped through my book, looking for something i felt led to share. but i keep getting frustrated by that exercise. none of it impresses me, and much of it fails to entertain me anymore. i don't think that it's because i'm used to it either - i think it's because i'm growing and changing, and the old pieces just don't speak to my present spirit. i think i need to elevate the quality of my writing, and frankly, being intimidated by that challenge is part of what's keeping me from writing new pieces. let me not forget that i haven't really been inspired much at the poetry venues in the few times i've gone in the last several months. have i seen it all? heard it all? in any case, i must admit, the arms i've fallen into are quite distracting. sometimes i feel like the best, most satisfying poems i've been writing lately are made not of words, but of the artful interaction between me and him. at this rate, i don't know when my poetry books will get new pieces scribbled inside them.

it might help to go on the internet more often to communicate through writing, in whatever form that may take. my myspace page is all but abandoned. my favorite message boards probably don't even remember me. my blog is really suffering. shoot, i'm barely even checking my email. i keep meaning to make more of an effort. then i keep slipping and losing ground...

it's not an easy place to be right now, wondering if i'm losing something really special.

but i'm trying to hold on.

i don't know where to begin...

draw your own conclusion. found this in the back pages of an upscale magazine...

"ARE YOU LONELY TOO? Man, 55, married, seeks married or single female companion age 35-50. Non-smoker. I am a moderate wage earner. Please send recent photo and other information. [insert message information here]"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

writers matter

writers matter.

i have a bit of a fascination with writers and the writing process, because every person is a communicator, but writers are somehow inspired to do it artfully, conscientiously, entertainingly.

that's why i'm especially sad to hear about the passing of bebe moore campbell. i first read some of her novels about a decade ago, when my mom was tearing through every book by a contemporary black author that she could find and then leaving the finished books around various shelves and tables in the house. to date, the book that really grabbed my attention was her award-winning your blues ain't like mine. i have a well-worn paperback that i've been through at least two or three times. it isn't often that contemporary black writers bother to include white people as major, fleshed-out characters in their books, while declining to stereotype them into a box of insignificance - it speaks to the human condition on a broader level than concentrating on just one ethnic group. it made her stand out to me.

i have yet to read some of her more recent offerings, most notably, 72 hour hold, which deals with a special concern of hers, mental illness. i love how ms. campbell used her position as a writer with an established audience to shine a light on an important issue that people don't talk about nearly as much as they should, especially among Blacks. it's projects like these that make it clear why and how even (and especially) contemporary writers can matter beyond the bookshelf. i can't wait to read it.

i must take a moment to acknowledge that i am a fan, that i appreciated bebe moore campbell's work and her creativity, and to lament that she will be missed. i wish her family and friends the presence of the Comforter while they reflect on her life and mourn her death, and i hope that fans, present and future, will gain entertainment and enrichment from her work.

Monday, November 27, 2006

action and reaction

seems like the michael richards incident is another one of those post i-have-a-dream-speech moments where some folks scratch their heads and go, "there're still problems with race relations? how about that! who knew?"

of course, this is unfortunate for jerry. he's got a whole rollout of new dvds of one of the show's seasons, and it's in his best interest that they sell off the shelves with no issues. leave it up to michael richards to threaten the whole deal with one unfortunate outburst. in my opinion, so far as the dvd sales go, it seems to me that from the show's inception, we were never their audience, anyway. despite our hardheaded insistence on promoting and supporting mainstream commerce with our precious disposable income, just like with certain fashion designers or whatever that champagne company's name was, we are expendable customers with negligible purchases to miss from their profits - in their eyes. if anything, they just don't want the fallout to cause them to be rejected by their real target market - other whites -resulting in slumping sales.

richards' numerous apologies are unnecessary. what comedian doesn't know how to handle hecklers? how wack was that? not only for him to lose his cool, which a talented comedian could have avoided, but for him to attack his audience with no punchline in sight.

funny thing is, i believe that it's completely possible that richards reacted out of anger and generally doesn't use that word. in that sense, i think he's no different than the majority of whitefolks, or anybody else. with your back against the wall, sometimes you do things you wouldn't do if you let your cooler head prevail.

thing is, this is what i (and i suspect others) have been told by elders about whitefolks, but thankfully, due to the timeframe of my birth, have had little personal experience testing: no matter how cool they are, no matter how much they're supposed to know better, you never know if their whiteness is the ace in the hole that they'll pull out when they feel they have nothing else.

"at least i'm not a nigger!"

a nigger - the worst thing somebody could be. the ugliest word in the american vocabulary. the lowest thing on the totem pole of american acceptance. dirty, funky, black, stupid, inferior, eye-rolling, spear-chucking, malt-liquor-drinking, fried-chicken-and-watermelon-eating, cotton-picking, welfare-cheese-eating porch monkeys... that's what we supposedly are.

now michael richards may not be a good comedian, or a working actor, or attractive, or even that bright, but in that moment, when those hecklers made him feel inadequate and small, he knew exactly what would tip the scales in his favor. at least he wasn't a nigger. that's what his tirade on that comedy stage was about. he reached for, not the funniest thing, but the dullest, rustiest, crudest weapon in his arsenal of anger.

it's entirely possible that he didn't even know he had that kind of pettiness in him. or maybe he did, and he didn't even know he could ever be so careless as to let his slip show. either way, what's done is done. and that's why his apologies to us "afro-americans" mean very little. it is exactly this kind of racism that we have come to expect in these politically correct times, where overt bigotry is frowned upon by the mainstream. it is exactly this kind of racism that blackfolks believe happens when we're out of earshot. we're not as paranoid as people think when we wonder about the looks, stares, actions, traffic stops, and dubious comments - "is it because i'm black?" it's incidents like these that make me and others remember the advice of our elders to be wary of whitefolks, no matter what century it is. you never know which ones are weak, and you never know when they may need racism to make themselves feel better.

of course, you don't want to think this way. but just like how some white women (who've seen too many movies with violent black men grabbing some blonde as a hostage while robbing a bank) get tense when the brothers step into their elevators, you can't help but to feel a certain way when certain situations crop up, no matter how much you want to be trusting and fair and colorblind.

ask michael richards. sometimes, you just react.

Friday, November 17, 2006


go figure,

i like my job!

so much that i actually want to go. when i say hi to the people, i mean it. and when i log on to my computer to work, that's what i do.

hence the erratic blogging.

no offense, but i actually have to work, now.


septa lessons


for how they raised me. most especially my mother. when i was little, my dad worked and my mom stayed home, so i was with her most of the time. but even when my dad came home, he was great.

know how i know?

i've seen the other side - what happens when people don't know how to talk to children. my father is an impatient man, but he rarely was impatient with me. i could tell, even in my youth, that my dad was someone special to have, because he put thought and effort and time into teaching me things. he explained them as clearly as he could. he gave me criticism when he thought it would strengthen me. he took extra time to help me learn - whether it was how to wash dishes, or how to throw a softball.

and my mommy? she read to me regularly and taught me how to read at an early age. she balanced indulging my curiosity with teaching me limitations and restraint. hugs were never off limits in my house. encouragement was never in short supply. every victory of mine was a victory of theirs. every crisis of mine triggered the support i needed from them.

and every instance of discipline, corporal or verbal, was well thought out - done out of concern for my welfare and not out of selfishness on their parts. never to hurt me. never to break my spirit. i was never called out of my name as a child. never spoken to in a tone that made me feel unloved.

these poor kids on the bus, though...

their parents yell because they are annoyed that they had to drag a toddler along with them. they yell at these children because their short legs aren't fast enough, or because they didn't have the stamina to walk through the mall with them as their parents shopped all day. these kids are learning from their example to be loud, impatient, and mean. i worry about if they live like this every day, getting yelled at, yanked on, pushed around, or - and i'm not sure which is worse - being ignored altogether. i wonder if they're being read to regularly at home. if someone is patiently teaching them how to scrawl their name neatly between blue lines of notebook paper in green crayon...

it all just reinforces in me all the love i realize i received from home... and all the love i plan to give my own little ones one day.

humbug! or maybe not

i'm knitting and crocheting scarves for loved ones for the holiday this year. every one who doesn't get a scarf is probably getting cookies. i work hard for my money. i have debts to pay off. they are whupping my natural brown posterior in taxes. i don't have it in me to fake the funk by whipping out the plastic to look like big wilhemina.

maybe next year i'll make jewelry. or give out coupons for personal favors - babysitting, financial advice, organizational consulting... (once for free to get 'em hooked, then i'ma get my side hustle on).

but that's it. i can count the number of folks i'll spend money for on one hand. i have a spending limit for them, too. but they WUV me, so they won't care. and everybody else will fit on my other hand.

God bless us every one.

i don't give a

i make it a habit to check the web for the world and national news, and i also watch the local news here and there. i do not watch entertainment shows about celebrities and wannabes. that is because i am not interested in entertainment news. entertainment news should be on entertainment shows.

i don't care who's getting married, or who was invited, or what religion they are.

i don't care who's getting divorced, or having a baby, or dangerously thin.

my city's homicide rate is off the chain. i want to know if i will get rained on at the bus stop. i want to know what my congressmen are doing (or not doing), and how the market is performing. that's why i turn to the news at 6 & 11, not to a cable entertainment channel. that is why i click on news internet sites and get rss feeds of particular news.

yet and still this celebrity gossip keeps filtering through.

they are trying to make us stupid. they want us to believe that a celebrity wedding is important. maybe I'M bugging - to some of us, maybe it is...


i never cared whether or not oj was innocent or guilty. i never paid much attention to the trial. i avoided its details at all costs. i thought the crime was heinous and unfortunate. the fact that people cared so much, and that they seemed to largely base their opinion of oj's innocence on race, disturbed me. it still does.

i remember that a friend of mine had a sleepover party, and she invited about half a dozen friends over to watch movies and be teenagers together. i was the last one to get picked up by my parents, 'cause i chose to go watch a school football game with her and her family. we woke up for breakfast that morning in her quiet, upper middle-class cul-de-sac, my friend, her parents, and i. we were munching on whatever, making small talk that morning, and her father turned to me and asked me what i thought about the oj trial...

at the time, i was a little disturbed by the question. everything was going so well, and i didn't want to talk about controversy. but i concealed my annoyance at having the flashlight shown on me, the only black person at that table, perhaps even for a mile of the house. i told the truth - that i didn't follow the trial, and that i didn't have an opinion on what the verdict should be. i look back now and wonder if my friend's dad was simply amusing himself by putting me on the spot, or maybe if i was the only black person he knew that he wasn't afraid to grill candidly.

in any case, some time later, i was the only black person in the room when my seventh-period advanced spanish class turned on the television while waiting for our teacher to finish watching the verdict in the teachers' break room. my classmates were disappointed and outraged. i was largely ambivalent when the not guilty verdict was read. that was partly due to an effort of mine to transcend whatever suspicions my classmates may have had about some black allegiance between me and the accused. like one of my favorite comedians says, i wasn't getting no oj check in the mail, so there was no reason to be pressed.

and since that moment, i've felt pretty much the same way. i'm not in the habit of following murder trials, no matter who the accused is. i still have no basis for an opinion on oj's innocence or guilt.

but i now have a very good reason to be appalled.

regardless of his innocence or guilt, i find it absolutely offensive that oj would write a book and participate in a television special that addresses how he theoretically would have committed the murders he was accused of, if in fact he was the one to commit the crime. i find it completely disappointing that there is an audience for this. i, for one, will not be reading the book or watching the show. i feel sympathy for the families of the victims, most especially oj and nicole's son and daughter, who have been stripped of the opportunity to be loved as i have by my parents. it is completely inappropriate that oj would even hint at the fact that he may have killed those people. it is twisted and cruel to tease and taunt the public, and to disrespect your own children, with this shameless media pimping.

i'm so disgusted, i have no further comment.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


i remember once that school was about to start, and i wanted to show up looking like a new woman. i've never been really chic. i tend to just get by with just enough. i've never been big on name brand fashions, or even knock offs of the latest fashions, and frankly, shopping is a chore to me, not an afternoon of fun. whenever i can, i shop more like a guy: i know what i want, i go get it, pay for it, and leave. i use a full face of makeup only on a whim, and even then, i'm a minimalist.

lately, i've been trying to put more effort into my style. i tend to go through phases like this. my main inspiration comes from my grandma and my mom. all my childhood memories of them are of them being fabulously coordinated, impeccably coiffed, imaginatively accessorized, and really just chic in their own way. it put me in the mind of the day i decided to get a back to school wash, cut, and curl.

i have a pleasant head of hair - healthy, brown, soft. but i never put much effort into it. but with school starting and autumn approaching, the spirit of change had me thinking about trying to be cute. so i put together a little money, bought a box of hair coloring, and decided to go to the hairdresser for a cut that would be the beginning of my own era of chic...

since i've always done everything for my own hair, just like my mom, i had only been to the hairdresser maybe once for each finger on one of my hands. i didn't have a number i could just call for an appointment. and with no recommendations for a particular stylist, i guess i'd just have to be a walk-in. however, my mom suggested that hair place in the mall. she'd stopped through there once upon a time to get her hair trimmed, and she had no complaints.

okay, now. first of all, every time i'd ever been to the hairdresser, or known of anyone going, they go to Rhonda's, or Tineika's, or fill-in-her-name-here's shop. it might have a name, like Total Concept, or Golden Shears. but where ever we went, the place had black hair care magazines strewn all over the place, one or two televisions mounted on the wall, and a chinese food storefront with bulletproof windows within walking distance. there are no others besides sistas when you walk through the door. and that's comfort. that's part of what makes you able to lean back in the chair and let Rhonda or Tineika do what you're paying her to do.

if i went into the walk-in shop at the mall, there's no telling what would happen.

but i gave it a shot.

when i got there, i circled and circled the shop, waiting for the one sista who was working in the shop with two other women, to finish the head she was working. but when i came back, i'd just missed her - she was at lunch. one of the other women told me that she was willing to work with my head, and her chair was empty... but i just couldn't do it. she got my thanks, but no thanks, as i sat down to wait for the sista. i think the woman understood my hesitance to put my hair in her apricot-crayon-colored hands. she told me, with carefully chosen words, that she was confident that she could do my hair. and she may very well have been qualified and trained to work with all kinds of hair, but i simply didn't want her doing my hair. i knew that when she went home, she didn't put her hands in a mop like mine, and that's all i needed to know. not so chic.

what's interesting is that part of the reason i don't go to hairdressers (talkin bout sistas) is because they tend to claim that they don't know how to deal with hair like mine - the thin strands, the texture - and looking back, i think it's interesting how i wasn't thinking about how those black hairdressers didn't have hair like mine, either, when i was sitting in that mall dissing that white hairdresser.

i haven't forgotten her. i wonder how often she gets that from sistas. i wonder if she can do hair.

i never found out. i kept my brown behind in that seat until the sista got back from her break. then i let her put her hands and her tools in my mane... she worked it. and when i left the mall,

i worked it.

slid a pair of shades on, and pulled out my inner model for my walk on the way to the car.

very chic.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

comfort and perception

what's interesting is that over time, years pass and i have changed and grown...

yet i use the same things for comfort. i have a sweater that my grandmother gave me years before she died. i wear it for warmth, physically and spiritually. then there's fred hammond's pages of life double disk cd. that always does it for me. i have favorite tracks that i can just play on repeat for hours on end, just letting it feed and strengthen my countenance and my spirit. making my mommy's sweet potato pie does the trick, too. or her macaroni and cheese. or, believe it or not, my dad's peanut butter sammiches. he made me one when i was sick, and i fell in love instantly. it's just a big glob of peanut butter between two pieces of warm toast... honey is optional. but whenever i want to feel satisfied quickly, it's always there for me. there have been times when my teddy bear, which has been mine since my birth, was the only available hug - one i gladly took, over and over again, whenever i needed it.

i'm still trying to figure out how i worked two or more jobs, kept my scholarship, made it to step practices and still managed to eat home cooked food (most of the time) and wear clean clothes in college. i'm in a bit of a whirlwind now, but with increasing effort, things are starting to settle into some kind of rhythm. i haven't been writing, which is unfortunate, because this is probably a time when i especially need to be writing. but my spirit is encouraged. especially since i'm wearing my grandma's sweater, listening to fred hammond, and digesting a peanut butter sammich.

i miss blogging.

one day, i was on the bus on the way home from work, and this young teenage couple got on. the guy sat down, and his love sat in his lap. this girl had to have been the loudest, most tactless person i've seen on the bus thus far. there was also a woman about my parents' age sitting about two rows directly ahead of me. the girl was talking to her boyfriend like there was no one else privy to her mix of profanity, petty sarcasm, and general wasteful words. you know the stereotype, right? well, of course, i didn't say anything to her. and of course, no one else did, either. but of course, the woman in front of me kept cutting sideways glances at the child, shaking her head in disdain, probably for the generation she'll never understand.

in my head, i was writing a poem about the girl, which i've since lost, since i never wrote it down. but in my imagination, i took the girl off the bus, out of philly, out of america... off to africa, in some rural society, where girls walk straight and tall and oblivious to their own beauty, balancing baskets on their heads, toting water over their shoulders, sporting beads and scarification and braids... 'cause the girl from the bus looked like one of those african girls - she was absolutely beautiful. i wonder if she was even aware of her beauty. i wonder if she knew her actions were completely incongruous with the nobility in her features. in any case, i imagined her as eloquent, full of the folk wisdom and the pride it takes to be humble. i imagined her dancing joyfully with other girls, barefoot, kicking up dust with abandon. i admired that image of her, and in that moment, i wanted to be like her - the version of her that i'd created.

and then the thought occurred to me - if she knew that i thought better of her as an african country girl than as a hardened inner city stereotype, would she have hated me? did liking her better as someone else mean that i hated who she was? was she even really being herself? is anyone truly distasteful and rude by any means other than their personal choice? i refuse to believe that folks of a certain age don't know any better. of course, i hate when i'm honest enough to ask questions like these, 'cause it sounds really judgmental, and even classist - never mind that her neighborhood probably isn't much different from the one i grew up in. in any case, i thought about the blog when i found myself mulling over my role in how i perceived her.

as i get back to balance, i hope to continue sharing these things here...

thanks for clicking here to see if i had anything new up. i know i've been inconsistent. and as always, i appreciate your reading.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


i'm sorry - i'm working. hard. my schedule is crazy. but i'm not finished yet (though i did consider it briefly)...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

falling down

i want to dance under wilting leaves and inhale the crispness of the air while touching his fingers gingerly. i want to appreciate the slight chill that will lead me to seek his body heat. in this time before our breaths can be seen, pushing impetuously against the air, i want to have him feel the moist heat of my breath as i whisper my happiness into his ear, softly like the falling of the leaves. because he deserves the leaves - the varied wonders of all their lovely colors that mimic the palette of emotions that he stirs within me. there is a special repose now, after the frenzy of summer's heat, and before the melancholy of the barrenness that shall come with winter. here, we find that last day for a long walk left to us. the last day that jackets are optional. the last few hours before an early retreat of the sun. and in the waning light, we turn towards the horizon and savor the final oranges, mauves, and lavender that the sky allows. we watch helplessly as moments pass and seasons take their turns, not distraught, but happy. because throughout this dance, we are unruffled by perspiration and undisturbed by shivering. steadily, as the world changes around us, we change. every mutual glance reveals more growth, more happiness, more affection... what a perfect day this would be. what a perfect autumn this would be.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

i'ma do it









i did get a chance to take that walk at lunch. and i'm glad for it. but it's been harder to find the time to exercise. and i don't wanna lose the momentum i got started, or lose the progress i've made. i will look the way i want to look. i will make it a priority to be as healthy as i can be. i will not compromise. if working moms and oprah can find time in their day... if once upon a time i used to have three jobs and classes... if i could improve my grades while pledging... then i can certainly find the time to do the things that matter most to my quality of life. i might sound like i'm trying to convince myself as much as anyone else, and maybe i am, but it's all about the attitude, right? right!

Monday, October 09, 2006

car pay

it's so easy to fall into a routine.

my schedule has changed, and it's affecting everything from exercise to blogging to cooking to my energy level. i gotta find a way to rearrange my body's clock to make it all fall into place or i'm going to lose my mind with guilt over the things i should be doing, or should have done, or ought to do... bla bla bla.

i guess we're just like the rest of creation. the ocean gets pulled by cycles of the moon. women are women with the cycles of the moon. folks do their living in the day and their sleeping in the night (for the most part). birdies migrate. salmon swim upstream. people get lazy in the winter, just like bears. i suppose it all works out some way or another. i know i need to get my moons/tides/swimming together before i pass out in the midst of the day.

anyway, tomorrow is one of the last beautiful days i may see before next april. we've been having a lot of those lately, and i've been missing them all because of one reason or another. but no more. i have to frolic in the sun, go take walks in my beloved city and hang out people watching. even though i have a poetry event tomorrow. even though my laundry STILL needs to be done. even though i'll probably be exhausted by the time i get a chance to go out and play. i don't care. i'm going to make it happen. soak up some sun rays shouting their brightness on my face. i need it. i deserve it.

here's to making time for the things that matter. making routine take a backseat to my will. seizing the day...

Friday, October 06, 2006

on stuff

on the capitol hill page flirtation scandal: i just want the powers that be on the hill and in the media to know that i am not stupid. they know which congressman was on the internet flirting with a minor, but i all i hear is clamoring for the resignation of the speaker of the house, because he supposedly knew about it. he won't step down.

that is beside the point.

the point is that the pages have been preyed on by at least this one powerful person in washington, and that this congressman should be treated like any other sexual predator.

instead of dealing with the fact that internet and face-to-face flirting with our youth seems to be constantly occurring, i'm supposed to get diverted by political posturing. i'm supposed to worry more about whether this will get the republicans out of congress in the upcoming elections. i'm supposed to argue vehemently for or against congressman hastert's resignation. and in the meantime, skeevy congressman foley is supposed to chill in rehab, out of the reach of the media (who are still bothering the amish), and out of the reach of my judgment. from recent reports, i have no idea whether or not he'll even be charged with a crime. can you not arrest people if they go into rehab? is that something i suggest the brothers do when they get caught committing a crime? just say you're a weedhead and admit yourself to rehab and the cops will stay off your back? or is it that old yucky white guys in congress are allowed such shelter from the law? no wait - i'm wrong. 'cause if the case of debra la fave is applicable, if foley was a woman, he might only get a slap on the wrist and some chuckles for giving a minor a hard-on.

i should just stop watching and reading the news.

on this weather: a nor'easter? in early october? this is so not cool. i'd wanted another weekend at the beach... *pout* guess i better start saving for that "i gotta get outta here" miami flight.

on last night's feature that i ain't even tell y'all about: you know things are changing with me when i neglect to even blog about an upcoming feature. it went alright. i was a little nervous for some reason, and i rushed some of my enunciation, and that wasn't good. but i got through it. i had a good rapport with the audience. and i held my own after one of the best poets i know, so i feel like i'm growing into my own. it feels good.

on health: y'all i am very proud of myself. i've been working out almost daily and i already feel like i look more healthy (whether or not i actually do, the feeling is enough encouragement to keep going). my poor little thighs are sore, and so are my poor little abs. but hey, that's how you know it's working, right? but this is the thing - what am i eating that's making my tummy ache with extra air? i'ma google it, 'cause this air is painful. i been dealing with it all day. any suggestions, dear blog family? help!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


i can't turn anywhere without hearing something about the tragedy that has happened in pennsylvania with those amish schoolgirls. i suppose i understand why this is such a big news story. either the mass popular media believes that we are a country of sick, depraved people... or we actually are.

i say this because i think that the story is huge because it involves a compelling combination of some of the worst, most offensive acts that could occur all at once. in this one tragedy, there's child molestation, lust for innocent virgins, and unforgiving gun violence. the more details are divulged, the more we hear about the story: the victims were shot execution style, the murderer was on some desperate-housewives-jekyll-and-hyde kick - taking his beloved children to school before participating in a heinous murder-suicide... leaving a cryptic note where he speaks from the grave, offering excuses for his planned mayhem...

i shouldn't be surprised after all. everytime innocents (most especially white innocents) are slaughtered by the sick, you can't get away from it in the news - think jon benet ramsey or natalie holloway. but don't mistake this as a diatribe against racism in the media. this is, instead, a commentary against a media that seems intent on feeding the public the creepiest, most disgusting stories it can find.

this particular situation involving the amish school incident bothers me for a few reasons. first of all, the amish are a simple and rather private people by choice, based on their beliefs. i've seen images of the surrounding community gathered to grieve that have been taken by helicopter news photographers. for a moment, please imagine yourself standing at the last funeral procession or prayer service you've been to, and then superimpose the sound and wind of a hovering helicopter and the glaring presence of camera crews and news reporters buzzing on the side of the road, gawking at you in the face of your grief. that is callously insensitive and unnecessary. i find that the amish are being extremely tolerant of the media in light of the fact that they have to deal with their priceless losses. a lesser people might have railed against the intrusive media presence by now.

another reason i am bothered by this amount of coverage is because we are approaching the deadlines for voter registration and we are approaching important midterm congressional and important local elections. there are many political developments happening now. if we leave it to the media, the only education we'll get about the candidates is the one we'll get from the mud slinging ads in commercial breaks. folks need to be informed in an impartial way about where they can get information about the candidates, so that they can be informed voters, hold incumbents accountable, and make challengers work for the opportunity to serve their constituencies. we have a war going on. the violence in our own communities is alarming. the classes are clashing, the middle class is losing ground, the elderly are struggling, the schools are incompetent...

but for the first few minutes of a given news hour lately, if you switch from news broadcast to news broadcast - local or national - all you see are images of the amish people and responding officers in the wake of the schoolhouse tragedy. all the other news takes a backseat to the shocking. this way, the advertisers who pay for airtime during the news can sell their cars, their political propaganda, and their insanely expensive prescription medications.

for shame.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

pushing through

i must be slow. got to be. funny how i have to be reminded by the Lord every single time about the futility of worry. i keep saying it, because it's true. faith is like a muscle - it needs to be exercised for strength and flexibility, or it will atrophy, and you will catch hayle trying to get it back in shape.

i took a long walk this morning. i'm not the one for a whole lot of walking or running. but it was good time for thinking, most especially about my faith muscle. i been spending time working on my own fitness in general, trying to strengthen and tone my body, and the analogy has really been vibrant for me lately.

getting a muscle to get stronger is not easy. it hurts. HURTS, i said. it's downright unpleasant, and the only thing that really keeps me going is the knowledge that the exercise will be beneficial, but only if i push through the pain and keep trying. gotta keep my energy up so i can keep pushing. gotta keep rehearsing the reasoning for the work in my head so i'll want to keep pushing. gotta keep from polluting myself with food that ain't bad for me. and when i'm facing an obstacle, i have to do just that for my faith.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

april did it.

Three Things Meme

1. Three people who make me laugh:


2. Three things I can do:

-Hula Hoop
-Make up songs in my head

3. Three things I can't do:

-Swim the length of the pool
-a man's push up

4. Three things I'm doing right now:

-this meme (that was easy)
-waiting for some phone calls
-procrastinating (as usual)

5. Three things I want to do before I die:

-visit outside this country
-publish my written stuff
-work for myself

6. Three things I hate the most:

-not giving my best to the people i love
-when i limit myself

7. Three things that scare me:

-being scared out of action
-bees that won't go away when you ask them to
-messing everything up

8. Three things I don't understand:

-how some people don't try their best for their children
-how they re-elected the president - oops, i mean elected him at all. you got to have a first election for there to be a re-election.
-foot fetishes

9. Three skills I'd like to learn:

-how to run my own business

10. Three ways to describe my personality:


11. Three things I think you should listen to:

(besides whatever makes you feel good)
-your gut instinct
-your mama
-people with good sense

12. Three things you should never listen to:

-stupid people
-propaganda (without an understanding of the whos and whys)
-jealous people

13. Three favorite foods:

-warm apple pie
-baked macaroni and cheese

14. Three beverages I drink regularly:

-fruit juice
-water as a last resort

15. Three shows I watched as a kid:

-the cosby show
-duck tales
-golden girls

16. Three people I'm tagging to do this:

-them, them, and that other one

expatriate (not quite)

whenever i truly write from my heart, i get the best responses.

i had a post here about my reaction to the spike lee documentary about hurricane katrina. however, i got a message from a friend, advising me to yank it off the internet and submit it as an article for publishing. she was really impressed with it, and since she's a published freelancer, i figured i'd take her advice. so here i am, yanking it. sorry.

but it does feel good to have someone telling me to actually do something with my writing, encouraging me to try to get paid - or at least published. there's some measure of validation that comes from that, and i really appreciate it.

on second thought:
you know, if you want to read it, you can leave me a comment, and i'll email it to you...

Monday, October 02, 2006


i like cinnamon raisin bread.
i really like brownies with ice cream and chocolate syrup.
helping friends move can be rewarding.
eating breakfast in the afternoon can be quite blissful, actually.
calling home is worthwhile, every single time.
simple things are often good.
i'm glad my teddy bear from childhood is still with me and in one piece.
philly has a poetry renaissance going on and it's exciting to be in the fray.
marriage also means finding out how to reconcile two people's stuff upon move-in.
no, i am not married - i'm talking about my friends.
change is inevitable.
dealing with unpredictable change takes patience and faith.
God is in control of all of this.
you never know what folks are capable of.
sometimes, you don't even know what you're capable of yourself.
i'm thankful for my six senses.
i refuse to live in fear just because my city is approaching its 300th homicide.
i'm really happy for this life.
i'm really hopeful about my future.
he makes me happy.
He makes me happy.
writing makes me... balanced.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


i was going through some of my poetry last night. it's funny how looking at it as a body is different from focusing on individual pieces. there's a lot of pain about matters of the heart disguised in those poems as sarcasm or defiance. i can look at them and see how much i've been learning through experience, and i can compare my current life to them and really appreciate how happy i am now, not just comparatively, but in general.

i'm in a writing spurt. i've been finishing old poems and fleshing out old ideas that i'm glad i scribbled down. and my ears are perky - i keep finding inspiration in things i hear. i'm glad for it. times like these make the slow going times bearable.


anyway, my parents have lots of mirrors in the bathroom and the guest room at their house, where i stayed last weekend. now i know i've been gaining weight steadily all year, and i know part of it is due to inactivity and an unstable diet and more than likely, a change in metabolism. i've been aware of that. but i still can fit in my clothes - the same size i wore in high school. (it's just that the fit is tighter, which isn't wholly a good or bad thing.) i actually like the new weight - i've been wanting to gain weight for years now. i lost the eight pounds i gained after my first year of college after i pledged my sorority and had all those step practices, and it's been hard to gain weight since...

where is that step practice now?

i didn't like what i saw in the mirrors at my parents'. it wasn't the me that i'm used to seeing, and i could live with that... if my reflection didn't look unhealthy to me. i've always thought that i wouldn't mind gaining weight as long as it looked healthy and attractive. i look great with my clothes on... but i wanna feel comfortable and not self-conscious at the beach, and at this point, i wouldn't.

i'm doing crunches and bicycles and push-ups almost daily. i may even start jogging, and budget willing, i'ma stop procrastinating on getting a bike. hopefully i won't lose weight, or not much weight, anyway. hopefully i'll just shape up. i discovered over the weekend that i'm too self-conscious (and vain) and accustomed to looking a certain way to let my body do just anything it wants. and i can't depend on my metabolism anymore - now, i'm a mere mortal who has to work out to stay cute, just like everybody else. i'm not happy about it, but it doesn't matter. i have to do what i have to do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

fits, spurts, commitment

went out to a big night at the womb yesterday. i was flipping through my notebooks, trying to figure out which of my poems i wanted to read on the open mic, and i came across those unfinished pieces. inspired by a friend of mine who was scribbling, i took out my own pen and started scribbling furiously. it wasn't easy - i was at a venue with friends all over the place, some of whom i hadn't even seen in months! there was interesting conversation all around that competed with the poetry... there were even french fries! but by the time the evening was finished, i'd fleshed out drafts of two poems.

and after going away for the weekend, and being tied up with appointments and catching up on rest, here i am blogging again.

the writing comes in fits and spurts. but i'm committed to keep trying.

anyway, my trip was to witness the wedding of some friends in virginia. i had a really good time. my date was amazing - i hate it when guys don't want to dance, and my date hung in there with me for the whole fete. anyway, i stayed with my parents for the weekend, since they were within driving distance of the wedding. life is good. i am really happy to have a good relationship with my parents, and my grandma, who i also visited while i was away. some folks don't have family they can relate to and i'm blessed to have an abundance of loved ones. kinda like how my friends, who are now married, have families that are willing to drive or fly out-of-state to witness their vows and their celebration. that is priceless. i enjoyed seeing old folks and little toddlers and everyone in between all mixed in sharing love and food and a dance floor and well wishes for the bride and groom. it's inspiring. especially when you think about how those tables and tables full of families branched forth from a couple here, and a couple there, who like my friends, let their friendship develop into love, and let that love develop into commitment, and let that commitment develop into family. that's beautiful.

and for the record, the bride and groom jumped the broom. i love that tradition, if for no other reason than the fact that it reminds us of our past in a positive way. now our brooms are covered in flowers and ribbons, reflecting the beauty of the occasion. we are blessed to be able to remember who we were - 3/5 of a human, incapable of legally or spiritually consenting to the covenant of matrimony - yet simultaneously with this very act of remembrance, we're able to honor our people of that past, whose broom-made commitments made our homes and the inspiring and nurturing love within them possible. now we jump because we want to, not because we can't get a marriage license and the approval of a religious institution. and that's possible because of the love and persistence of the ancestors. the broom honors them and their commitment to us.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

state of the pen address

last night i noticed that i have about five unfinished ideas for new pieces of poetry. some of them i'm procrastinating on, but others have simply fallen into the cobwebs of my mind, and the only reason i remember them now is because i came across some scribbles in my second marble composition notebook... guess i better get on it.

i was telling a colleague yesterday that i am a writer - that i write poetry and short stories, and that i read my stuff in public. he wanted to know more about the content of the poetry, and i told him, social... political... cultural... (i left out erotic and spiritual and introspective and that i can't even label some of it) and then i simply told him that those are among other things. i didn't feel comfortable telling him all my business - he don't know me like that. then he wanted to know which predominated between them, and i couldn't answer that straight. i didn't even want to answer that. i told him that none of them can, because my poems express many facets of myself, that we are all multifaceted people, and that part of the beauty of an individual is their variety, and in that way, part of the goodness in my body of poetry is its variety.

he probed further. he wanted to know about the type of short stories i wrote. i thought of the stories about little nyla and her mother arlene. i suppose he thought i'd answer with something easily categorized - mystery, science fiction, or something like that. i felt penned in a corner. these were too many questions! my kneejerk internal reaction was that this somewhat older man, this white man would never understand me. and frankly, i didn't want him to understand that much about me. perhaps that wasn't fair to him - i think he just wanted to relate to me, and show some interest in me as a person, but i felt probed. i shirked that question by saying that i don't write many stories but that the ones i do are fiction, "and that's as far as i'd go with that," leaving him to wonder about my work, and showing him that there was a line of privacy his questions were breaching.

i still don't know what to make of that exchange.

also, i allowed myself to be talked into something new yesterday. i read a poem and allowed music to be created that was inspired by its content - i was so very scared to do that! i liked my words the way they are! i didn't want them changed by music. i didn't want to take the chance that the union between the words and the music would take away the meaning and the feeling of the words, which weren't ever meant to be lyrics, and which, in fact, are better suited for the paper they were written on than the mic. but because i was scared, and because i trusted the producer to truly try to respect my jealousy over my creation (i'm an artist, and i'm sensitive about my isht), i faced the fear. i don't like being punked by my fear of things, and i often try new stuff for that very reason. the music is a work in progress, but i'll say this. i don't think my words are offended or compromised. and that truly inspires me!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


i got a new pen and a new highlighter.

a guy asked me for some help yesterday and when i did, he didn't want it to be charity. he has pride. he wanted me to walk away with something in my hand.

so he gave me a pen and a highlighter, and he told me that he would pray for me.

i thanked him. i need the prayer.

people like him who don't even have much are capable of giving of themselves. why not me, that much more? he inspired me. he helped me to remember generosity. and dignity.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

well written

we are a haunted people.

right now i'm reading paule marshall's the chosen place, the timeless people. she's one of my favorite authors, and i've read almost all of her novels. they transport the reader throughout the many facets of the diaspora, which i've been fascinated with for some time, but even more so lately. the only thing about reading this excellent book, though, is that it challenges the reader to explore the bright and dark areas of the african psyche, affected by slavery, colonialism, classism, racism...

it's hard to go on the internet and interact with other black people without coming across debates about the current status of african people in this country and around the world. there are also the statistics about unemployment, crime, incarceration, educational achievement, economic status... there are discussions about culture and image and social statuses and behaviors. there is a world of thinking - a world of talk. shelves of books, reams of editorials, a legion of talking heads, all devoted in some way to discussing, analyzing, maybe even trying to solve the peculiar phenomenon that is the aftermath of our past trauma, and the question of how to assess our current trauma.

it can be overwhelming, reading it all, listening to it all - and not even all of it. one well written provocative blurb could cause someone contemplative like me a whole day's worth of head scratching or a whole week's worth of probing the opinions of my closest friends. sometimes it's more than that - sometimes the introspection leads me to confront painful personal feelings and experiences that i struggle to rationalize and understand, often regarding my place in the melee.

sometimes i just get tired and i need a break. i can't zip off my skin or cast my mind aside, but sometimes, i have to refrain from reading and participating in the discussions. perhaps it may even be necessary to put down the novels i've been voraciously devouring. especially ones like my current read. i feel myself being compelled to finish the story, even though i know that the truths it forces me to confront are challenging me in ways that distress me - ways that interrupt the personal security of my old understanding and make me reconsider the way that i regard myself and face the world.

i might not be able to read for a little while after this one...

Monday, September 18, 2006

learning stuff

i went to a concert last week that was really a good time. it was outside in the park, and it featured one very talented dj and one very talented band. i learned that it is possible to really get to higher heights when it comes to breath control. the drummer in the band was also the lead singer, and the songs they were playing were dance music - house music - the kind where if you danced and gave your all to the rhythm, by the time you'd finish, you'd be completely spent, if you danced to their whole set. yet this man was drumming his behind off and singing at the same time. folks, that's not something that most people have the cardiovascular fortitude to do - let alone the talent to do it well. as a poet who reads my work before others and attends slams regularly, i see that sometimes it's difficult for people to get through their pieces without their breath faltering unless they have some understanding of breath control, especially if/when they're getting really really passionate about a piece, and their delivery requires lots of energy and passion. but i see that it's not impossible to marry that passion with good articulation if you have enough breath, and that drummer in that band is a master. even with my pieces, which don't tend to make me winded, i think that there's something that anyone who performs out loud can learn regarding breath control...

i went to a party yesterday afternoon and had a good time... the folks and the music spilled out of the place and into the street, and in the overflow, off to the side, there were people doing all kinds of stuff - playing with fire, breaking, and other miscellaneous stuff - and something that caught my eye was the hula hooper. now, i have a hula hoop at home, 'cause it's fun to play with on occasion, and friends come by and try to use it. i put it around my waist and play with it and i'm good at it - i never let it drop from my waist. but this girl yesterday? she was hooping around her raised hand, bringing it down her arm to her waist, bringing it back up to her neck and off of her neck, out to pass between her wrists... she was good! and lucky for me, she had a few extra hoops, and i got to play with one. she told me things that helped me to do some of what she was doing - she was great at that, probably 'cause she teaches a class, and because she practices often. as good as she is, she's still learning. she hopes to hoop with fire soon! i think i'll keep on practicing what she taught me (but not with a mind towards hooping with fire!).

this is me yesterday

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


my house is a mess. i must clean. i hope i don't break a nail. if i do, i'll just deal with it, 'cause, my house is a mess.

i need to wash the dishes, do some laundry, vacuum the floor, and get the bathroom floor. well.

i don't feel like it.

but the longer i wait, the worse it's gonna get. and the worse it gets, the less i'll feel like it. and the less i feel like it, the longer i'ma wait. it's a unforgiving vicious circle of mess. i understand why people get maids. i can't afford one. if i could, i wouldn't pay one to clean my house, 'cause i'm too chea practically frugal, and 'cause i'm too proud of what few homemaking abilities i do have.

if it gets worse, i'ma have to move. i can't live in the midst of this mess. mess makes me feel claustrophobic.

okay, i'll clean.

stupid independence.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


i don't usually like to talk about the contents of my dreams with people, 'cause people are strange. they like to get all freudian on you, and tell you dumb stuff like you have a latent sexual attraction towards your parents or you have a deep seated fear of cheese or something stupid like that. but in my parents' house, there are two dream books. partly because my parents play the numbers. partly because my mom believes what they say. i've shared my dreams with my mom before, 'cause, well, she's my mom.

while she was here, the morning that she left, i had a dream that i was with her, out somewhere on a pier or a boat or something, fishing. this isn't surprising, mom and dad love to go fishing, and part of my childhood was spent staring at worms and watching lines for tautness and waiting for something exciting to happen, like a fight with a bucking striper or porgie. my mom and i had our hooks baited and our lines cast in the water, and then i felt a tug so dramatic that somehow i'd left off of the rod and was pulling on the line, struggling with both the fish's protest and the slipperiness of that slight plastic line. i turned to my mom to ask for help, but before she was able to get to me, i pulled with all the might in my arms, back, and shoulders, and the fish came to me.

it was beautiful. the fish was also huge, spanning the length of my outstretched arms. it wasn't shaped like a fish you catch, though - it was shaped more like a fish from the pet store, and it looked like one, too. it was so white and iridescent, it was like it was glowing brilliantly. at the end of my catch, my body was spent, and for a fleeting moment, i felt bad that my sport had harmed the fish. but it was as if the fish somehow understood my feelings - it looked directly at me, and as a way of consoling my conscience, the fish laid itself out willingly and died as if it wanted to die - as if it were a lamb to slaughter who realized its death would be beneficial to the butcher.

mom says that's an employment dream (not a pregnancy dream, all you soul food enthusiasts). she had a big fish dream like that one before she started her job, and that's what the dream meant for me, she says. according to her (and her dream book, which she checked as soon as she went back home) i should receive good and beneficial employment soon. now that would be nice!

i don't know how much stock i put in dream books, since i figure that if dreams mean anything, it's tailored to individuals, their cultures, their beliefs, and their personal lenses on the world. but i know that it's not often you can look my dreams up in books. for example, one i've had since then involved me being on the run with someone with three white children - a boy, a girl, and a baby girl, out in the midwest somewhere. (i know no such family in real life.) we went shopping at w.almar.t (i fed the baby m.cdona.ld's french fries that she hardly even wanted) and then we went to a car dealership at some point, to buy a car which would up being a lemon. we were hagging at some other dealership when, for her safety, i had to take the baby girl and split from the rest, wrapping her in a cloak to keep her warm and hidden and disappearing into the night...

it was at this point that i realized i knew kung fu, 'cause we were under attack and i had to defend us. we were out by a lake and a highway, and i was running all over the place, kicking much ass...ailant behind. all with three limbs only, 'cause i had the baby under the cloak in my left arm, tucked like a football on my chest the whole time. i was cracking skulls together and defeating the foes who outnumbered me and kept coming in every direction. the longer and more noticeably i fought in this public place, the more folks kept coming up, challenging my dangerous kung fu style. now that was fun.

i bet my mama can't find that in no dream book.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memoriam, Cathy LoGuidice

click here for one of Cathy's favorite groups

Catherine Lisa LoGuidice and I have precious little in common. She was born nine years before me and lived several states away. I've never met her. Perhaps on one of her adventures, chasing down some hard rock star or heading out to defy death on a mountain biking trip, she wound up on a road trip, and maybe she passed me in a car on I-95 once and neither one of us knew it. I've come to believe that it's a smaller world than we think this is, and the Pisces within me likes to believe that the connection between me and Catherine is on purpose.

A big part of Catherine's life was love - she had the time and heart for lots of it. She loved her two god-daughters, and friends and family members. She had even found the kind of love that people pray and wish for in a fiancee, an old friend she'd known since high school. She was planning to get married to Erick Elberth, and all of her friends and family celebrated with her at a bridal shower. She was a beloved daughter to Catherine Masak and Carmelo LoGuidice, sister to Lucy and Michael, and an aunt to many. A part-time veterinary assistant, Catherine loved animals, too. One thing that she definitely shared with me was a love of reading - Anne Rice was one of her favorites! I can imagine her four cats finding other things to do while she got all wrapped up in some intriguing story packed with horror and suspense.

Her life seemed full. Her taste in music - on the edge. Her taste in stories - on the edge. Her sky diving and mountain biking - on the edge. This woman, of tattooes, intricate Halloween costumes, and horror movies wasn't one-sided, though. Her brother Michael knew that she loved Thoreau so much that she once travelled to his famous retreat, Walden Pond. She also took up Tai Chi, an ancient art characterized by its graceful and gentle movements that inspire health and inner peace.

What's crazy is that you could walk past Cathy, as her friends and family called her, on a crowded street - bump into her maybe - and never know all of the wonderfully interesting stuff about the woman you were bumping into.

When the planes hit those towers on September 11, 2001, I was in bed, getting ready to wake up and go to class across town. Catherine was at work. She was an assistant bond trader for a firm called Cantor Fitzgerald. As a nation, we were all shaken and confused while the tragedy was happening, but I can't imagine how Cathy and her family felt in particular on that morning.

She died that day, five years ago, at the age of thirty. She was on the 105th floor in the first tower, and it's pretty likely that she just wasn't able to get to a safe place. Like many of us, she hadn't thought much about the World Trade Center attack in 1993 since it happened. Her job was at the World Trade Center, so that's where she stayed for the several years to follow.

When she was memorialized, donations to the ASPCA were requested instead of flowers, honoring her animal-loving spirit. After her death, and the deaths of 2,995 others, I mourned, wearing black for two days and crying for many more, shocked and deeply moved by the television images of people wandering the area near the towers with signs seeking their missing loved ones. At the time, and even now, I am just a fellow American with no direct connection to the tragedy. But I suspect that Cathy's family felt the impact of the tragedy much more intensely, and I suspect that today, and every day, they remember Cathy's life more lovingly than I ever could. They, and the other 2,995 families of the deceased and missing, have my most reverent sympathy.

I hope that those who knew Cathy can get joy from their memories of what they loved most about her, and that if they are able to learn anything from the way she lived her life, that they'll honor her memory by doing so.

May her spirit rest in peace.

Thanks to and for information on Cathy that served as the source of this tribute.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

write anyway

i'm staring at this blank screen without any inclination to say anything.

but it's important to me to write something in order to stay in some kind of a rhythm. if i get out of a rhythm, that's bad for me. i have to keep writing! i'm trying to run around here, going on stages, reading poetry, writing stuff, creating stories, calling myself some kind of a writer. the least i can do is make the effort to continually write, even if i'm not particularly fond of whatever happens to come out.

i've been told that's very important. i had an informational interview with a local author/singer/filmmaker/public relations manager/all around amazing artist, and she said that it's important for people who write to write continuously. makes sense to me. i know a music producer who can be found making music for no particular reason except for the sake of making it - at any time you may inquire with him to see what's going on in his world. i know another producer who had hundreds of hundreds of beats and melodies in reserve in a computer or two, just because. my favorite basketball player growing up was known for his relentless pursuit of perfection, working out on the court, dribbling and shooting all of the time. a poet friend of mine said a few times that she has more poems that she's not impressed by than poems she's proud of.

i can relate to that. i've been looking at my blogs over the past year, and sometimes i can tell from looking at them which ones i was writing just to have something written, like this one, and which ones were written out a particular passion to have something particularly said. what's interesting is that in retrospect, i don't like the ones where i'm floundering any less than the ones where i have an express purpose. they're alright, of their own merit. i like them in a different way. and at the very least, they kept my momentum going. perhaps i'll be a more prolific and more talented communicator, just because of all of the practice. one cool thing about a blog is that it allows me to write for an audience, and even interact with that audience. that's something that i don't often get as a performance poet or a story writer. and as long as i keep up my momentum here, i won't feel like my time writing, even when i'm seemingly at a loss for words, is a waste.

thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

borrowing sugar

this morning i passed my downstairs neighbor, right around the corner from our house. we've met and spoken. the last time i saw her, we were leaving our apartments at the same time, and we each said hello. this time, we were walking facing each other. she was headed out, and i was headed towards the house...

i spoke to her, "hey, how ya doin?"

she just kept walking. as if i weren't standing there. as if i hadn't greeted her. it was like i didn't exist, or as if i were scenery to be ignored, like a telephone pole, or chain-link fence.

i shrugged. she must not have recognized me, 'cause we've only seen each other about two or three times since i moved in a month ago.

then i had the thought sneak in - what if she did recognize me? funny how that question made me feel. i decided not to pay it any more mind. i decided to figure she hadn't recognized me, she was preoccupied with getting to work, she doesn't talk to strangers... hey, maybe she didn't even hear me at all.

should it matter?

i suppose it should. you'd like to have a good rapport with your neighbor. which is why i shouldn't take it personally. or worry about if she would have noticed me or spoken if i was white like her, like everyone else in my building.

oops, did i think that? how silly of me. i've been reading too many messageboard threads about race relations. i've been hanging out with the afrocentric poets too much. garbage in, garbage out, you know? i need to diversify my friendship roster so i can avoid falling into the trap of being around black folks so much that not being around them makes me paranoid - that seems to happen to too many of us... anyway, i don't even know her like that, and i have no good reason to think it was because of my color.

it could be that i have a forgettable face. maybe i thought my voice was louder and more audible than it actually was when i spoke to her. maybe she'd had a nightmare and was stuck in a mental review of what happened to her in her sleep. she could be hearing impaired. who knows?

should it matter?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


it is a joy to tell people your dearest friends and loved ones exactly how they make you feel. some of us don't have the opportunity to do that. they're too inhibited to display emotion, 'cause they're too afraid of how they'll be perceived by others. some of us simply can't talk - my grandma could only communicate with her eyes once cancer had made her so ill that talking was just too much. i had to just KNOW that she loved me and that she wanted me to know. some of us have the opportunity to share their feelings but don't take it, 'cause it's just not something that's on their mind to do.

my personal list of people to call/e-mail/write to just keeps getting longer. it's a blame-my-head-not-my-heart tendency of mine, that i suspect i share with many others who've lived in different places, or who have family scattered all over. i mean well but i don't always do well. what can i say - i'm working on it.

this much i do know: there are some people on this planet that do double-time with, 'cause the joy of knowing them, of being known by them, of spending time with them, of sharing aspects of my life with them - it's just amazing and it bubbles up like soda bubbles. i find profound joy in expressing my love and affection for my people. i hope i do it often and well until the day that i die.

Monday, August 28, 2006

some folks

some folks just hardheaded. i'm one of 'em.

now the other day i had somewhere to go and i was having a little bit of car trouble. now the smart thing to do woulda been to take care of the problem once and for all and then move on. i was well aware of this. but i opted for the quick fix, because i had somewhere to go, like i said, and i was hard pressed to make my appointment. i'd deal with the problem later.

up comes a good samaritan, bless his heart. actually, he approached, 'cause he needed help, but he had good timing, 'cause at that particular moment, i was getting frustrated and i coulda used his help too. he asked for help, i told him what i could, then i asked for his help. he suggested the once and for all fix. i told him i opted for the quick fix. he explained that the once and for all fix was better. i told him that i knew that, but i had somewhere to go.

let's pause.

in my opinion, at this point, this is where home skillet shoulda recognized that i was resolute in my decision, for better or for worse, and that he was either going to help me do what i was resolved to do, or he was going to have to get out my way while i struggled to do it myself.

but i wouldn't be telling this story if he did that, now would i?

he commenced to keep on lauding the virtues of his way and kept on talking about how i shouldn't do it my way. which only served to aggravate the hayle out of me. right when i was about to give up on him 'cause he was wasting my time, he gave in and just helped me with my quick fix. i was about to tell him to leave me alone.

see, it's not that i didn't appreciate his advice or his assistance. i did. i really truly did. in my gratitude, i was even later to my appointment because i wanted to make sure that he had the directions that he needed. but and however... once i'd made it clear that i knew what i wanted to do, that i was aware of the particulars of his advice, and that based on that and other information, i was sure of my decision, he had the opportunity to hear me and let me make my own mistake. instead, he continued to talk as if i simply hadn't heard or understood him, as if i was not only deaf, but as if i had the intelligence of cereal.

i hate being underestimated, disregarded, and ignored.

which is why the small talk (so when did you come through your sorority? really, well i came through fall 94. yeah, and blah blah blah) didn't really go over like it would have under other conditions. you know, where he would have just let me be in my own hardheaded fashion.

notice i haven't detailed the particulars of my little issue. that's 'cause i don't want no whole mess of unsolicited auto advice in my comments. let me reiterate - i know i was making an inferior decision. be advised, however, that i got where i was going and back safely, that i'm going to the shop today, and that all is well with me and my ride. hardheaded though i may be.

Friday, August 25, 2006

not a normal night

so although i wasn't sure about what i was going to do, at about 8:00 that night (doors opened 9:30, the venue started at 10) i finally sat down and made some final decisions. i was given the opportunity to do between four and six poems, so i settled on five - three without the notebook and two with the notebook, and the ones i chose to do with the notebook had been done enough for me to not have to rely on the notebook for every single word. i took about the next hour and a half going over the poems, making sure i felt comfortable enough to get through the set without embarrassing myself, and with the ability to keep my energy and some real feeling in every line.

i picked out a dress my mama gave me, some earrings and bracelets, and high heeled silver slippers, just like dorothy from wiz (at least that's what i was thinking when i put them on). i packed a couple of props (more on that later) and headed out. from rehearsal, my voice was a little strained, so some lemon tea helped my throat while i waited to go on. in true procrastinator fashion, i set my notebooks out in front of me to do some last minute cramming, going over the words with my eyes, 'cause you never can prepare too much, and i knew my preparation was on the lean side, anyway.

i paid attention to the room - the traffic in and out of the room, whether or not people were paying attention, whether or not the energy was low, or high, or what. about seven or eight poets came on before me. i tried to pay attention to what they were doing like on a normal night, but this wasn't a normal night - i was a little nervous and i wasn't sure how my set was going to go...

one good thing was that i was following some act out of los angeles - i liked their style enough to enjoy them, and they finished their turn up with a really nice cover of s.ade's is it a crime. i knew i was going next, and i was as ready as i was going to get. so after my wonderfully warm introduction from the host, i got up, lit some incense, took a gourd out of a canvas bag, and hopped up on the stage...

i needed the props to add to the parody of my first poem, deep. i have a tendency to speak to the audience before i start my pieces - perhaps it helps me to build a rapport with the audience before i start to share myself, but really, the bigger purpose it serves is to help me deal with my nerves before i begin my poems. but i wanted to grow a bit, and i decided to get right into it. thing is, there were some folks back by the door that were making a little too much noise for me to get started so i waited... (which reminds me of a story that just popped into my head as i write this. when i started school, and it was my turn to walk across the front of the class holding a pointer up for each letter of the alphabet that was on that banner above the chalkboard, if i wasn't satisfied with the class's pronunciation of a certain letter, i would put my hand on my hip and linger, pointing at the letter again with the pointer until my classmates got it right. i can't imagine how much the teacher must have wanted to laugh her behind off every time i did that.)

but anyway, just like when i was on the step team, or in the gospel choir, or starting a monologue on stage when i was in the drama club, the second i opened my mouth to speak, the nervousness took a backseat to the necessity of hitting the mark, the note, the timing, and giving the people my best. i gave them my satire on stereotypical revolutionary poetry, entitled simply, deep. (i didn't need the incense after that... i wonder what they did with it after i handed it to the audience???) then i introduced myself as a writer, "i write stuff," and cautioned them to love me anyway even if i was going to do some of the poetry from the book instead of off the dome. the folks were with me - favorite poets encouraged me to do what i do, so... i did. i got into the next piece, "just cause," which is a love letter to a friend who needs to leave a relationship that harms her spirit, punctuated by a chorus that i sang. (talk about relief at the end, after i didn't go flat. the benefit of writing my own words and performing the results of my own creativity, is that i got to sing in a comfortable range and at a comfortable pace. i didn't have to blow folks away, i just had to carry the tune. nobody cringed.) i did the first two pieces without the book, and picked up the notebook for my next piece, "me too." i love this poem. it talks about body image and self esteem, and how black nationalism and cultural pride are intertwined. and it's really personal, causing me to get really familiar with the audience. i've gotten so much love for that poem from sisters who understand exactly what i'm talking about.

i thanked the audience for riding with me through the feature, and told them that i had just a couple more and then i'd yield the stage. i brought back an older piece that i hadn't really done in months called, "he wants to be assassinated," which is my adaptation of a well-known traditional piece in at jus words, which is the name of the event. the first pieces were all by men, who were expressing their desire to be so influential in the elevation of our people that they'd be shot at - my piece talks about that from the woman's point of view. it's an energetic piece, and the audience rolled with me. i knew that one by heart, but i read my last poem, "regal tresses," straight from the notebook. i think it was right when i was in the middle of it that i noticed the whole place was quiet - and it was all i could do to hope that it was the sound of folks listening with interest instead of the sound of folks waiting patiently for me to shutup. it's hard to tell when you're on stage and the lights are in your eyes and you can't see faces, just bodies.

before i knew it, my poems were over, my set was done, i thanked everybody for listening, and i scooped up my stuff and bounced off the stage, relieved and happy that i got through the set. i got applause, i got daps, and when i asked for feedback from people i trusted, the most common response i got was that i didn't seem nervous, and that i seemed like i was just comfortably being myself up there. *smile* that sounds good to me!

i just wanted to let y'all know that i survived.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

blessings abound

i'm not even really excited about tonight's feature. wow. i thought i would be by now. and everytime i think i know which pieces i'm definitely doing, i change - even though last week i had a whole list figured out...

it's official, i'm a flake.

but anyway... i spent a couple hours with my mom on the phone last night. i love doing that. i love talking to her about just about everything. i love the cadence of her speech and the sound of her voice. and i love how when we talk, it's like i don't have to miss her 'cause she's right there. i love cooking something and tasting it and thinking that it tastes like my mom's. she is the most important friend i have. my most reliable soundingboard, my most faithful dose of reality, and simultaneously, she is, along with my dad, the best cheering section! without fail, they believe in me. i am so blessed.

money is tight right now, and it had come to affect my attitude lately. i've found myself battling to make sure that i keep my attitude right and keep circumstances in their proper perspective. i was driving to a venue the other night, dressed comfortably, in my car, loving the drive down the side of the schuykill river, rejoicing in the feel of the night air, happy that i was going somewhere to enjoy the artistry of friends... and it just helped to put things right in my mind, and all i could do was thank the Creator from my heart for the life that i have and the decisions that i've made. it's truly a blessing that even with my money being tight, i'm still able to enjoy the life that i have and the provisions that are available to me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

crunch time

i was really inspired by the show i went to last night at a venue called the womb. everyone did an excellent job - the stage presence was amazing, consistently. and i got nervous because i am the featured poet at one of my favorite venues tomorrow night, and i am not ready. i wanted to do everything without reading from my notebooks. i wanted to show growth in my ability to command the stage with my words. i don't want a pity clap, or a that's-my-peoples clap. but i'm not quite prepared for that now, and i'm a little disappointed in myself, 'cause i've known this night was coming for several weeks now. procrastination is the only thing i ever seem to be on time for - if only because it doesn't require promptness and preparation. so now, i'm cramming. we'll see what happens in front of my dearest poetry aficionado friends. maybe i'll learn something valuable from this experience, and hopefully i won't fall on my face...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

clouded vision

maturity seems like a major factor in whether or not a relationship works out. all around me people are getting together and doing the couple thing... and all around me, relationships are just not working out. i think a big part of the collapse sometimes is that people just weren't ready for the kind of relationship that they were trying to be in. i used to think that it was age - that the people got together or got married too young. but now i'm amending that. i think maybe it has more to do with the people not being developed enough - at that certain point in their own development where they are ready to be patient with someone else's changes, or where they are really comfortable with who they are as a person, or where they haven't experienced enough to emphasize the importance of weathering the bumps and bruises with a resolve to do well by the other person... i just keep seeing those same problems over and over in the failing relationships i witness from the sidelines.

notice i said failing, not failed. people stay together, like whitney and bobby, 'cause apparently they like the ins and outs and ups and downs. they complain to their friends and family, but continue to stay together unhappily ever after. they won't accept responsibility for how they contribute to the relationship's problems. they won't communicate honestly in word, or in deed, with their partner. they act vindictive. they shut down because they don't want to go through the drama of actually facing and working on the problems with their partner - even if a real happy resolution for the both of them could possibly mean going their separate ways.

and what's interesting to me about this is that these things are happening with people who are capable of handling bills and jobs and careers... not all of these people are just point blank immature, as in childish or sophomoric. but when i look at the things they do and the reasoning behind their decisions, they just seem immature, as in unripe or naive.

i'm not immune. looking back i've done my share of holding on when i shouldn't have, poking my lips out and digging my heels in when i should have walked away... it's so much easier to see now that i'm removed from those situations. it's so much easier for me to see what's wrong because i'm not in those relationships. i used to explain it to my friends as the "happy cloud," which is short for "the happy cloud of sex." it doesn't even have to be good sex, either. pheromones start flying all over the place, and they attach like cataracts to your eyes and plug up your ears like seawater, so you don't see or hear the dumb things that are going on in the relationship, or you can't see yourself in the mirror, or hear the dumb things you say yourself. the happy cloud doesn't work alone. you don't think mrs. brown has the sole rights to being stubborn for the sake of not being wrong?

but at some point, shouldn't the cloud dissipate? it's like all these people are extremely masochistic, and they like walking around with these huge boulders on their backs. why stay in something that doesn't make you happy? why simultaneously give up on trying to make the thing work? even in my weakest moments, i've had breaking points where the isht i was going through was not worth me staying, and i resolved within myself to let go. i think i'm more developed now than i was then. i think that, from experience, and from being more comfortable and secure with myself than i've ever been, that i'm far less likely to make those old holding-on mistakes. i also think that simply knowing about the happy cloud changes its ability to affect me. and i'm thankful for the passage of time and the benefit of experiences, good and bad, that help me to see these things about myself and to tread carefully and more wisely through the waters of my own future. i just wish i could bottle this, and spray it all up in the relationships of my family and friends that need it most.

Monday, August 21, 2006

new glasses

i'm wondering if my dissatisfaction with unity day yesterday was all on my end - as if i'm looking at things with a different set of glasses - or if it really was wack this year.

i've been going to unity day off and on since i was a little kid. the city of philadelphia clears the benjamin franklin parkway (site of live 8, the million woman march, and countless other gatherings) and philly's oldest FM station for black music holds a gathering called unity day. i've been back in the area for almost a year and a half, and i remember going last year - in fact, i even blogged about it and what a good time i had. but this year? i coulda had a V8.

the parkway is generally filled with vendors in between a handful of music stages - an R&B stage, a gospel stage, a main stage. the vendors sell all kinds of food, jewelry, books, art, clothing, and african wares like raw shea butter, wooden instruments like drums and kalimbas and shaking gourds, and fabrics. to their credit, there are also booths about healthcare, housing, and community activism, among other positive things. it is definitely my kind of thing - i used to like to go to people watch and check out the marketplace.

but this year, i just didn't have the patience with the crowds, first of all. the lines for the food were so long that weren't even worth getting in. the food lines extended all the way into the middle of where everyone was trying to walk and get by, so noone was walking. instead, everyone was just creeping, half step by half step. and i'll tell you who frustrated me the most - mothers with strollers. having your child down there in that stroller is a sure way to have that child bombarded with all kinds of bags as people shuffle by in the crowd. plus, those heifers run all over everybody's feet and trip people in the wheels. and they expect you to defer to them because they have children in a stroller - they should either be carrying those babies in one of those little baby backpacks or be leaving them with grandma or something. i saw too many women dragging little two to five-year-old kids around in that crowd, in that heat, under that sun, and felt sorry for the kids. it's too much for some of them.

then i really started to have my shame-on-me-i'm-a-self-righteous-heffa moments. the first one was when i walked into a book booth, attracted by the "book sale, $5.00" signs, and encountered one of my pet peeves: you guessed it, ghetto fiction. i mean, all of it! and there were my people, scrambling in the crowded booth, handing over bills and bills for that unimaginative garbage to make their minds spin in place. and no, i didn't want any souvenir t-shirts, or giveaways from the local crappy hip-hop station, or posters.

another such shameful moment was when i started fighting the urge to go up to children and ask them where their mothers were and if they knew they were dressed like that in public. i mean, unity day is a family gathering. i didn't fear for the girls' safety. but i was still disturbed by what they had on and what their mentality was - innocently naive, or just fast and grown? either way, some of those girls needed some more damn clothes on. yeah, i said it. but i knew better than to take that up with them, 'cause i'da got arrested for fighting somebody's insolent smart-mouthed child. i just know it.

another thing that made me angry was the ridiculous commercialism there. cars and motorcycles all over the place. ridiculous and typical sponsors all over the place. like we need to be spending our (usually ill-spent but heavily coveted) disposable income on a har.ley, or contributing to the hypertension and heart disease statistics by eating more fried chicken. i guess the organizers had to get what sponsors they could, and being responsible wasn't much of a factor. i'm not saying that we don't have the willpower to say no to ads, but i just feel like taking the money was like taking dirty money...

with the exception of watching children playing with the water plugs or doing what children do, i wasn't entertained. i really just wasn't. i was actually happy to leave. i'll probably be back next year, optimism back in effect, but for now, i'm thinking that once a year is enough!

Friday, August 18, 2006

free your mind

i heard a poem at the venue that got me to thinking.

i think that one of the biggest problems some black people face is a tendency to be too reactionary. i think this afflicts some in the well-to-do set just as bad as if affects some in the no-pot-to-piss-in set. the people who shop for thousand dollar hand bags and hundred dollar bags, and the people who carry canvas sacks and put edible products in their hair and smell like patchouli. but all of us are busy pointing fingers and looking down our noses at each other about the lifestyle choices we make.

this is difficult for me to explain, but let me break it down as best i can with some examples. just because christianity was introduced to the slaves as part of a self-important, myopic, eurocentric worldview (and because it helped to make the africans more docile), that doesn't mean that christianity itself is invalid. just because european descendants in this country are the favored majority and their worldview dominates the media, that doesn't mean that their values and way of life are suitable for everyone's happiness and well being. just because it's easier to get a job when you have a relaxer in your hair and you're able to speak english with their cadences and their octaves, that doesn't mean you have to look down your nose at people who choose to go to work representing themselves in another way, with ethnic hairstyle, clothing, and dialect. just because all your starving-artist type friends lock their hair, go vegetarian, reject organized religion, and wear famous black hero t-shirts, cowrie shells, and denim all the time, that doesn't mean that you have to do it to be an artist. some educated people are so cerebral and academic and social-climbing, they yield no benefit to their own people, but that doesn't mean that higher learning is a bad thing.

people take one extreme over another and think that they're better than others for it. they're too busy "keepin it real." real simple minded. it's like people pick their favorite stereotype and then slip right into its expectations in order to avoid being lumped in with some other stereotype they don't like as much. they don't want to be the lazy nigger, so they get some hustle and get all corporate and kill their spirit, when maybe if they'd examined their own goals instead of accepting someone's else prescribed plan for them, they personally would have been happy living life another way. they see hypocrisy in people who are steady claiming religion, so instead of searching out its principles and tenets for their own understanding, they just throw the baby out with the bathwater and walk around in self-righteousness, looking down their nose at the religious adherents who are doing the best they can with what spiritual knowledge they have. they're told negative things about their own people of another socioeconomic status, so they live their lives making sure that nothing they do or wear or say can be described as "ghetto," or "booghie," as the case may be.

oh yeah, just because there are many instances of this society rejecting you or your values, it doesn't mean that rejecting the society around us in turn makes any sense. i don't care how anti-establishment you are, you got bills and your kids have to eat. i don't care how much you hate what the police do and what they stand for, they will crack your head open if you disrespect them. some things are just damn stupid. you gotta eat if you don't wanna starve. you gotta pay taxes if you don't wanna go to jail. you gotta have shelter and clothing if you don't wanna die of heat exhaustion or hypothermia. there's only so much we can eschew "the white man's capitalism" no matter how much you hate the profits over people ethos of the corporations - nine times out of ten the people mouthing off the most about this are buying ivory that african elephants died for, wearing sandals made at slave wages in some southeast asian country all while their dollars go into a white-owned corporation's pockets ('cause we all know that blacks don't buy black). nothing is perfect. nobody is perfect. we all have a hard row to hoe. we each have to make choices on what we buy and why, and how integrated we want to be in the economy, and why.

but on a quality of life level, it's deeper than that. you deny yourself the joy of self-discovery and inner peace if you don't think for yourself. examine YOUR OWN conscience and whatever beliefs stir YOUR soul. i think you'll live life happier if you expend energy learning what type of work satisfies YOU. if you take the time to be honest about what kinds possessions and activities are enough for YOU? what personal standards of beauty are enough for YOU? why should you care what works for someone else? your mamanem included. we retard our mental and spiritual growth by fitting lifestyle options into these stereotypes, then we retard our community ethos by thumbing our noses at the people who make different choices than us. it's so frustrating to me.

i am at once a bohemian/black american princess/sorority girl/bookworm/hip-hop lover from the hood whose higher education receipts total about 200,000 dollars but whose favorite sneakers cost less than thirty. i have business suits and power pumps and i have an ankh necklace and egyptian musk purchased off the street. and whoever doesn't like it that i eat pork on my pizza and worship Jesus... well, let's just say i don't want to mix His name in this sentence with what i figure those people can go and do. i'm keeping my bacon bits unless i see fit to change that, and i'm keeping my bible unless i see fit to change that. i know who marcu.s g.arvey is, and i know the tax value of having a good retirement plan. i can put in extensions and jump double dutch, and i can do my own 1040s and understand my credit report. i eat out of bulletproofed chinese storefronts and places with menus and cloth napkins. i can quote both snoo.p d.ogg and the preamble to the Constitution. and i'm happy with myself and my own choices because i made them, not out of reaction to what others require of me, but because i am building my OWN life based on the knowledge i seek and on the back on my OWN choices. i know what type of life i want to live, what level of financial means is too little or too much for me to feel comfortable, and what type of work does and doesn't inspire me. i am taking responsibility for my own choices, instead of just reacting to others'. i wish more people would do the same. the Creator gave us minds and autonomy for a reason.