Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adventures of a Writer's Convention

"Wow, I'm doing good on time, the first workshop starts at 9:00 AM, I'll have 20 minutes to spare according to the GPS," I smiled. Cruising along i-85 since 5:00 AM to Atlanta was a breeze or so I thought. "Dang, what the-!" My car came to a complete stop as I entered the cusp of Atlanta. Back the back traffic creeped along like a caterpillar. That slow traffic ate up all the time I made up. "Finally, we're up to 35 mph, thank goodness," I sighed.

Screeeeeeeccchhhhhh! Swerving my car to the right towards the exit wall, trying to avoid hitting the car in front of me. "Oh Jesus," I cried inside. My brakes didn't seem to stop my car and I slid toward the rear end of the metal box braking in front of me. My eyes swelled as I visualized the impact and bracing myself. Suddenly, the screeching stop and was replaced by the smell of burnt rubber, loud bass drum beats of my heart and my shaking body. I saw my car hitting the car in front of me! I did! I was less than an inch front smashing into it! I really thanked God for that miracle.

It took me the rest of the morning to calm down. I made it to the Black Writer's Reunion & Conference unscathed. Shaky and nervous, but unhurt. Whew, thank goodness because I don't have health insurance until our government works that issue out.

It was so good to reconnect with fellow writers and learn from some established, successful authors and professors. The reunion was wonderful and the information from the conference was helpful. Some presenters were more prepared and knowledgeable than others, but more importantly, I spent time writing with other authors.

The W Hotel hosted the event and it was beautiful, but a pricey hotel without free Internet in the room? Come on, W - What is up with that? And, $4 for a bottle of water, come on, really? So, I settled in my room refusing to even investigate the little snacks on the table in case they were weighted.

Fssttttttttt...what was that? A big water bug flew out of the air conditioning vent. "What the-?" Knocking everything off of the desk where it landed, I was determined to kill that enormous beast! "Where did it go?" I emptied everything out of my purse, conference bag, and books. "Where did it go?" Finally, I saw it creeping from under the linen so I sprayed it with my perfume! The creature quickly flew underneath the bed. "Please, can you send someone up to spray for this devilish thing that is tormenting me?" The hotel refused me...instead they moved me up to a suite. A suite? Ahhhh, sweet.

I eyed the new room with contempt. I saw the kitchen area, living room with a balcony, couch, desk, sleeper chair, and flat screen. Yes, the bedroom had another flat screen and balcony, walk-in closet and separate bath. "Is this the best? Well, I guess it'll do." I was in heaven! Go me, go me!!! I invited my writing buddies up to my penthouse suite to have writing sessions. That's the least I could do for the little people in their tiny, normal rooms. So generous of me. We even watched a movie on my DVD player in my living room.

We walked to the mall and I bought some special exfoliation soap from a skin and body care store called, LUSH. And, let the fresh air fill my room with my balcony door open. As I relaxed in my plush bed watching my flat screen television. Did I mention that I was in heaven?

Hey, what is the life of a writer without experiences, right?

Friday, July 9, 2010

You're not going to be my FB Friend!

I laughed out loud as I scanned a blog written by an acquaintance. A hilariously written list of those who deserve a throat punch. After all, who doesn't want to jab a good punch to someone in the throat on any given day, right? One of the groups listed: Adult women that choose to back stab and play the “I can’t be friends with you because you aren’t friends with her.”

When I transferred colleges, I joined my fellow sorority sisters on the new campus. I expected to be welcomed into a glorious sisterhood. I expected my sisters to have my back like Thelma and Louise, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Celie and Nettie of the Color Purple. But, boy was I wrong. As one sister said, "You meet all types of women in a sorority..." Tis true, sis.

I'm never one to just readily open up to women because of my past experiences. But, I've let my guard down and allowed myself to enjoy the encounters that new female friendships and bonds could bring. But, to quote Debbie, some of these chics need a good throat punch! Seriously, they're acting more like Desperate Housewives, Housewives of ATL, NJ and Orange County combined. Why??? I cocked my head to the side and questioned, "And, how old are you?" But, a friend said, "It's not about age, it's how they truly are."

Okay, you be the judge. If we met at BOA and developed a bond, but you started seeking employment at Wachovia, and BOA finds out that you've been posting, taking profiles, etc and resigned you, would we have to stop being friends? But, when you tell me that you care about our friendship, but you don't know who to trust at BOA now, should I be offended? I'm still the same person, just wanted to keep my job. And, to add insult to injury, when you delete me from your simple Facebook page as a friend, does that mean we're not friends anymore at all or just not friends on FB? Please tell me your thoughts...

I was up last night thinking about this issue because although I don't care that these women deleted me from their FB friends list, their reasoning for it bothes me. And, I don't really care that they have left a good company and started a bunch of unnecessary confusion. (Do you!) But, I do care that these individuals called me personally and texted me: "I care so much about our friendship and I just don't know who to trust...I don't know who's a mole...I hope we can work together...good luck, you're make me smile...I'm tired of the gossip and rumors..." Then the very next day I lost these two supposedly friends on FB. I get hung up on by a forty-something man, now this? What is the world coming to?

"Maybe all the rumors, drama and gossip would not have started if it weren't for you! Or, maybe you don't know who to trust, paranoid of moles because you're guilty of something? Or, just maybe you are deleting everyone that knows the truth and hope that your new connections at Wachovia won't talk to your old connections at BOA?" As I told one of them, "what's in the dark will come to light always does."

And, the other thing that I care about is everyone affected. All of the people who have been made to feel uncomfortable because of their mess! Making people feel like they have to choose, real friends don't do that. "I won't be your friend because you work for BOA and bank with BOA." What the hell? People are dealing with foreclosures, sickness, lost of jobs, children in Haiti are starving, tornado's affected family in other states... folks are dealing with big life issues and I hate that these women are causing distractions for their pettiness by involving so many others.

If you want to leave BOA and start a project over at Wachovia, own up to it! Just do it and own up to it. Then people wouldn't have to choose, you wouldn't be secretly deleting friends from FB and lying to their faces, and you wouldn't be trying to make the CEO, VP and employees of BOA look bad because of your decisions.

So, when I see them on the street, what do ya'll expect me to do? Truth be told, my life was fine before them and will be even greater empty spaces were filled and no void was left. It was a good journey but it had to end because of their lack of credibility as an individual and the lack growth, evolution and accountability.

Yep, I said it, I meant it and I'm here to represent it. Don't you touch my dredlocks, don't you touch my knee cuz I'm a Detroit sista, don't you mess with me! (part of a chant that we used to sing back in the day in the D.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"I better watch what I say around you..."

my friend half jokingly said. "Or else my life will be on page 6." (Page 6 pun, in the NY Post all the crazy news and drama is on page 6) Obviously, he reads my blogs.

I remember this lady in church warded off gossipers by saying, "If you don't want it repeated then don't tell me." What she meant was, "don't come whispering to me about something or somebody unless it can be repeated." I laughed at this while all the while knowing that I loved a good gossip secret every now and then. Okay, yes, I'll repent, but be honest with yourselves, you've indulged before. So, don't judge me!

This year I have decided to be transparent via my blogs. This is a journey of trying new things as well as my experiences, encounters and thoughts. And, as a writer and actress, I go through an emotional rollercoaster by empathizing with others. Every conversation, meeting, and situation might just be repeated at one point or another whether it's in a blog, one of my books or plays. That's just the way it is. I write about me, my family, friends and enemies. I take it all in and write about it.

When my mom finally read my book, Up From Rock Bottom, she was extremely angry with me. "You painted me as this bad mother and made it seem like I've never done anything for you," she lamented. It wasn't that she was a bad mother, I tried to explain. It was just that she was a young mother and made some choices that affected her children. Now, did I mean to oust my mother for the world to point their judgemental fingers towards? No! But, unfortunately while telling my story she became a sacrificial lamb of having her story exposed. And, we all hate exposure...well, bad exposure. While talking about my nitty-gritty her gritty-nitty was intertwined.

I have to admit that I'm pretty stubborn and rebellious so I try not to write out of that energy. But, I must write. It's funny, I grew up a shy, passive kid. Later, something snapped within me and as my mother says, "You just can't let stuff ride, you've got to tackle it." Yep, I do, but I am learning to pick which battles I'll pursue. Sometimes I'm wrong and sometimes I'm right and sometimes its just about principle. And, as we all know, there may be consequences and repercussions.

This year, I'm trying not to hide anything. I was very transparent in my book and I'm transparent now. So, if your story is intertwined with mine and you see it on page 6...well, as the church lady said...

Unless, of course we both know that it is personal and private, some stuff I do promise to take to the grave to honor friendship.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I just lost one...

"Who me? What?" I mouthed to the hunk of man on the cruiser in the left turning lane. He signaled a "hi" and gestured about me pulling over. This took me back to my highschool and college days when guys flirted with girls and let them know that they were desirable. Ohhh the days. I was flattered to be checked out on a hot day plus being sweaty from working out.

Biker man navigated his way out of the biker lane and followed me to Target. He seemed a little charming, but again I could have been so flattered that in my now past youth days that I'm still being flagged down. Or, it could be that I was taken aback since men in Charlotte won't utter a single compliment to women even on our best Halle Berry-everything-is-tight day.

We exchanged numbers and as on cue he asked, "Where's your man?" Cute, same line guys used since the 70's. "I don't have a man," I said. But, I did tell him that I had a friend.

Biker man wore my phone out! It quickly went to, "I miss my boo," and "My baby is smart!" Whoaaa big fella, it's way too soon to be labeling me as boo and baby. Big turn off! So, I backed off a little. I have to admit it would have been cool riding on the cruiser or sailing on his "boat" (if that was true.) However, my antennae was sensing something strange and I had to acknowledge it.

Finally, I told him, "Listen, I can't give you the time that you want. I won't leave my daughter at home alone to come meet you. I won't bring her to meet you because I don't introduce her to guys I've just met. And, to be honest, I'm just really busy with the direction my life is moving. So, don't wait for me, go do your thing." He quickly told me that he wasn't waiting, but he just wanted to see me. (Yeah, okay.)

Over the holiday weekend, dude called me over and over. Men, don't do that. Women, don't you dare do that!!! Don't keep ringing someone's phone until you get them. Give them a chance to call you back. Ugh! I was never given that chance and I was irritated. He must have called not once or twice, but about 8 times over the weekend without me calling back. Beyonce's "Diva" played out on my iPod and I said, "Okay B, let's do this."

I called dude back (he had just called me twice, back to back again) and told him, "Hey, I was busy and saw how many times you called. You don't have to call me over and over until you get me on the line. When I'm not busy, I'll call you back. That's irritating and overwhelming. And, when I feel overwhelmed I back away..." He tried to interject something about telling my man to stop taking up my time and that he just wanted to see me or something stupid like that. "Listen, I'm feeling overwhelmed," I continued. "So, I don't think...hello?"

Dude hung up on me... What the? Do men in their 40's still hang up? Ha, apparently so.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My journey has new direction...

Last month I was questioning, what was I going to do with my life. Working in the arts in such an unstable career especially during this economy. Heck, working any job holds instability right now. But, the arts is in me and if I tried anything else it'll be like a 200 lb. woman squeezing uncomfortably in a pair size 9 skinny jeans. It's a hot mess to say the least.

Recently, I heard a speaker/author named Dan Pink speak on the arts. Let me share with you some of what he said to help clarify any doubts of pursuing what you want to do in life.

We are now tipping from the left brain to bridging the right brain. We prepare our children (as we were prepared) through math and science to get jobs as accountants and lawyers, but don't teach through the arts. Here's why we have to change this, according to Mr. Pink. The three A's: Asia, Automation and Abundance.

Asia: India will take over America. There are 1 billion people in India, and if 15% make it with education and coming to America for better jobs, guess what? That would be 150 million new workers. Right now, US is outsourcing "routine" jobs and they are no longer valuable. A routine job is defined as: if you can write down the steps and get the right answer (blue-collar jobs). These jobs have left the building like Elvis!

Automation: Software is replacing our "left" brain. White collar jobs are being replaced by software. For example, accountants high revenue service is tax preparation. These are now outsourced to India, which prepares about couple 1000 per tax filing. No big deal! But, Turbo Tax has hit the scene and has taken over majorly. Even lawyers got paid for uncontested divorces, but now you can file online for $249 at, or

Abundance: We live in it! Think back to when our parents grew up. They didn't have a tv/dvd in every room! The ipad just came out 2 months ago and 2 million people bought it. Two months ago did they know that they were missing it? Or, the "new" iphone. What was wrong with the old one that people stood in line for hours to replace it? Abundance!

Poets, dancers, and artists give the world/people what they didn't realize they were missing. The right brain art abilities help us establish high concept-hard to send overseas-and give the world what was missing.

We need novelty, nuance, customization, but our education is routine with right answers and standardization. We need to restructure our system from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Ex., NYU medical students are going to the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) to study the artwork because of diagnostic training. Why? Certain types of diagnosis is routine through software. Students are learning to use observation skills like a sculptor and painter (using reasoning, analytical, algorism, aesthetical skills.)

As I listened to more of Mr. Pink's speech, it made me realize that my teaching artist work has and will make an impact on our future. So, I'll be pursing my arts and my Master's Degree.

As Rachel said with tears in her eyes in Glee to the music teacher, "I'm just really glad you didn't become an accountant." As the song fades in "Don't stop believing..."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Okay, you twisted my arm, I'll talk!

I'm sitting here trying to focus on my writing, but I can't because the same thoughts keep swirling in my head. The way I look at it, I have several choices: let them keep swirling and stay distracted, get the journal out and write it all down or just blog about it as part of my transparent evolution. Lucky for you, I chose to blog it.

My mom has always told me that I will never have a man because I am to hard on them. My retort was, "I just don't like excuses." The men in my family never reached their full potential because of excuses. So, when I called my friends' friend to invite him out to share my friend's birthday he gave me a few reasons on why he couldn't come: my girl can't make it...I know ya'll want to be alone...I'm gonna' let ya'll share your intimate moment." All these "reasons" fell flat because it was an invitation to join a celebration. So, when I later ran into both my friend and his friend and brought up the event, the reason changed to "I've got plans." Wait, when? That was a new "reason." When I questioned him he said, "Hey, can't you handle her?" Or something to that fact. What? Handle me? That took me back to something a pimp would say.

I must admit that my pre-menstrual hormones kicked in and an attitude instantly swelled up. Instead of tripping, I decided to take myself out of the equation and leave. Simply exit before I said something inappropriate. What set me off? First, the excuses. I never expected this person to be full of excuses. Secondly, the passive line of "handle her." Not something a man should say to another man in front of a lady. Never.

I traveled to another event that I was invited to and got my attitude under control. If I was to celebrate my friend's birthday then I needed to check myself. Later my friend questioned me about my whereabouts and with whom. This was nothing unusual because he is a questioner of all things. However, if I was to question him then defenses would have shot up like a brick wall. "Why you questioning me?" We've talked about this and we both know it's true.

So, after all of the fun festivities of the night, my friend had a major attitude adjustment. Which left me wondering, "What the heck?" And, this made me question a few things. Why would someone who doesn't verbally admit his feelings or want a relationship even care what I do? What was the mood swing for? Why as grown adults do we just bury these thoughts and feelings instead of talking about them? Are the boundaries of our friendship being crossed and we're not admitting to it? Again, I know what my attitude change was about, but what about his? Should I even ask or let it go? Was my mother right all this time? Why the heck am I wasting time thinking about this crap for?

As you can see, I could spend my precious time asking questions and not writing, or I can just blog about it and let it go. I blogged it so hopefully I'll come to a resolution and let it go. Ah, woosah!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wicked is Life

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

Life is a journey. It can be an amazing one if we let it. And, this year I hope to make it an amazing one even in the midst of unemployment and an unstable future.

Sitting in the auditorium watching the wonderfully crafted musical, Wicked, I found a lesson. Watching Elphaba finally breaking away from the limits that others place upon her as well as dealing with her unusual oddness was so refreshing. Yes, a green girl trying to life a half normal life is strange, but to have the purpose of living to take care of her disable sister? Ugh! "Don't do what you want? Do what we tell you to do? Live this way and not that way!" Not Elphaba and not me! And, hopefully not my daughter, Dove.

I wrote my first book, Up From Rock Bottom, to prove to my daughter that she can do anything that she wants to do. I wanted her to stretch her mind and creativity and understand that life has no limits. As a child, I pretty much got her involved in the creative world and that child would watch every musical including the long length "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." In fact, her kindergarten teachers thought she had ADD, but she was having a musical going in her head.

Through the years, I found that I put so much into her that I lost myself. And, now here it is 11 years later and I'm rediscovering me. Unemployed and questioning my purpose. Am I to go back to school? What about money? Should I just get a "real" job if there is such a thing?

But, at least I have the courage to find me and what I really want. It's time to fly and live life! Defy gravity and do everything. I may not ever be Puffy Combs rich, but I want a fulfilled life without regrets! So as Elphaba says: it's time...

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
"Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly!"

And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity