Sunday, November 27, 2011

Focus: Of the Day and of the Season

The focus of that day following the wonderful day of thanks is to pick up all the Christmas gifts that you think is necessary for those ecstatic kids and family members. People have the reason to believe that the discounts are so worth it that they devise delicious schemes to stand on line as early as possible to be amongst the ones who get the early bird specials.
Merchants triumphantly display their stores for those filled with ambition to shop. Some people are calm on the lines, waiting patiently until it is time for the extravaganza to begin. They are there simply to buy what is on their list and leave. Their attitudes are not intimidating or berating. They are just ready to run at sprinter’s speed into the stores when the doors open so that they could enjoy the various pleasures of the early morning.  But some have perfect unconcern for others like them who decided to wait and so, the shopping experience becomes less than a pleasant one and instead, competitive shopping.
I have never stood on line in the early morning. I will admit that sometimes the deals seem pretty good, but for me, I am the type that could go around an entire store, pick up things and then see the line and put everything back. I am not a fan of the long lines or the large crowds.  Yet still, something led me to Roosevelt Field in Westbury, NY for this year’s Black Friday event. I purposely decided to reach there after the rush thinking it would be safe to enter into the mall at 10AM.
I was not the most accurate person. I thought the fuss would be somewhat diminished by the time I got there, but I was wrong. For one, I decided to bring my favorite little cousins to go shopping. Just being around them is like a shower of blessings and so, I felt this joy being able to bring them there.  As we walked into the doors of the mall, we walked into a strained alliance between two woman that caused a fist fight. That was not a comfortable or snug event that I wished for young kids to walk into. But we were already there and were not going to turn back over somebody else’s peevish attitude. I knew that there would be crowds but the heavy foot traffic was not something that made me happy at all. And the sales weren't that great to be rushing into the mall and standing on thirty minute long lines. I did everything I could to get out of there quick, but not without the few discounts that I do look forward to every year at Victorias Secrets and Bath & Body Works.
I have to admit, shopping on Black Friday has lost its luster.  There always seems to either be someone getting trampled over, hurt or some kind of madness within the stores. And then I think to myself, Black Friday is exactly one day after the day we give thanks and exactly one month before the day we celebrate known as Christmas.
So I have decided that for every day until Christmas, I am going to find something to be thankful for.  On Black Friday, it was the experience after the mall, when my babies and I went to Benihanas to eat Hibachi style.  Have you ever eaten there?  It is a restaurant that has some great food and just seeing them cook right before your eyes is exciting for the entire family. The combination of the food, the Hot Sake, and seeeing young faces light up calmed me down. It was great going there.
I was also thankful for deciding to stop with them at the movies to see, Tower Heist, the new movie featuring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. They are an incredible pair of actors and teamed up together, offered non-stop laughter and good times. If you have not seen it yet, go because it is a great movie.
Christmas will soon be here and how can we not acknowledge that in November we are having temperatures in the upper sixties; another thing to be thankful for. But today, I find myself being thankful for the gift of singing and the ability to hear music.  I was able to read my 300 plus pages, listen, sing along and also write parts of my paper and it made the experience even better.  

Though I have been a witness to stores playing Christmas carols since mid –October, I love the caroling and lights of the true holiday season, even when the true focus of the season gets lost in all the things you can buy. Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. 
 While Black Friday is only one day out of the next 30 that we have left to shop, Christmas is not about the gifts. Will we think about that now that we are in the first week of Advent when Cyber Monday comes, to remember to include someone who is less fortunate on our lists?  Will we remember that on Christmas Eve which falls on a Saturday this year when we go to Macys or Toys R Us to pick up our last gifts that God is patient and so we must also be while waiting on those hour long lines? Christmas is the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Is it possible that on Black Friday, the eager lady on the early morning line in California, forgot the reason for the season when she pepper sprayed the other people on the line so she could get a gaming console at Wal-Mart? Let’s not forget that Jesus is the reason for the season. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My I.D. and Me

MY I.D. and ME
At first it was used to regulate and define. I learned a skill and was forced to apply it without even having a decision. I was an outsider looking into the love of someone else who was a black belt and knew all the important factors of making it something successful. As for me, it didn’t hold that much significance in my life. 
But then, I found myself scribbling down the silent bars of music that passed through my history.  The concept seemed wonderfully wise and strong. I was looking at it from a different perspective and it somehow had this natural elasticity around my heart. My mind was always drifting into the world of writing where I was this caricature invented by a ballpoint.
Words would flow like waters of a rain storm in November.  It started as poetry first, rhyming the sorrows of my heart in couplets and stanzas. Fiction writer Charles Chestnutt said, “It is the dream of my life to be an author,” and suddenly, I felt like him and my heart began to sink into the puddles of the fall storm.
Passages of time never seemed to remove me from this awesome love story that had begun to develop. Writing stimulated the life of the mind of a young woman. It had deep significance on my life because the rhymed stanzas and poetry turned into something that could be sung and made me refocus my energy over to writing songs.  I loved writing poetry and songs, and I loved singing them because I loved to sing.
I am surrounded by deep thoughts that often get emptied out on to the naked lines of papyrus. I am on the subway and the signs that string around the car provide some kind of message worthy of jotting down.  I am caught up in the midst of reading Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice, and a situation that is so peculiar sparks some kind of idea that I could possibly build on.  A quote from V.S. Naipul’s A House For Mr Biswas gives so much inspiration, that it inspires a brain storm that causes me to burst my cloud and let the words all out. Then I am sitting down watching a commercial, and a significant gesture makes me want to write something down.
One day before the break, I found myself looking at the world on a deeper level. I was me in a different mask looking at life through a stranger’s eyes.  It was not my life at all, so I was simply seeing it limited in view.  I became too busy for me.  I stopped writing on my own will except for what was dictated for me to write based on assignments. I stopped holding concerts for the four wooden walls of my basement; literally. I had been trapped in a box unable to find desire or that passion I once held for what gave me my identity.  How could I leave myself out of my own life? I had to change direction.

I couldn’t speed ahead because who knew what would be found there, so I was forced to slow down the process of moving forward to be on the sane side. All I knew was that I had to change the current because who I am required me to put pen to paper, and I stopped doing it without reason or rhyme.  So I decided that it was time to reclaim myself because I am nothing without my passion. That’s when I applied the brakes and suddenly, I began cruising on a Celia Cruz salsa groove that was layered with history and shimmied me back into the flow of things.

My history is writing. I write and I sing. I love to write and I love to sing. Therefore I am a singer and a writer and I claim them both.  And here we are again, on the road to happy. Or rather, on happy. 
Some people depend on substance to give them a boost or a high that just changes the face of the earth, even for a moment in time. But all I need is a notebook and a pen and I am alright because I carry them wherever I go. Writing is my music. Music is in my spirit. I have a song with me at all times. My notebook is almost as important as my ID because in all actualities, my notebook is my ID.  My I.D. and me.  There is no me without it.

My Notebook

And if you were to find one of my many notebooks laying around somewhere, here are some selections you might find (Click on the link to view):

In the Twist of Your Comfort Zone (A Poem)

The Saga of Pinot (A Short Story)

A Piece of Musical Art (A Short Story)

Breakthrough (Lyrics that Made a Song)

Face the Music (Lyrics that Made a Song)

Thank you for Reading. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving filled with family and love. God bless!!! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Year in Review

I find myself in need of moments to refresh and recharge more and more these days. Perhaps it could be that I am an over-analyzer or simply because I have become a professional juggler, trying to handle so many different things in my life at the same time. I admit, nothing has really changed in my life. Yet, it simply satisfies my sweet tooth to make sure that my days are coupled with unique designs and electric movements.

This year has been a really tough one.  I have experienced a layoff, bounced back on the right foot, found placement and have also been continuing my education while I also sing. No one told me that life would be easy except me thinking that I was superwoman and could handle “the fury of the storm as does the willow tree” (James Weldon Johnson).

But besides the things that have happened to me directly, we lost Heavy D who from a distance, practically grew up in the homes of all Americans and abroad. Even though it was on television I would see him, he was always there in his songs, like a cousin who would come by to bring joy to my day. I'll never forget Video Music Box with it's fly videos that used to stream across the scream. Those were some wonderful days.

I used to make it a priority to watch Andy Rooney with his witty self on Sundays and all of a sudden, the inspiring journalist has found a place in heaven.  We have had a major hurricane here in New York and also a snow storm that knocked out power all over. The news seems to have more and more awful stories featured in it everyday which kills the spirit to know awful things happen new and fresh daily; right in our own neighborhoods at that. This world can be a lot to absorb at times.

While my life is a developing story, I have realized some truths about myself. I am my own worst enemy. I have found reasons to doubt in all aspects of my life.  I was trying to pinpoint the very reason and for years found trouble with forgiving myself, even though I had physically moved on with my life, progressively.  Yet, my thoughts seem to retrace their steps back to the past where all things began.  That coupled with trying to survive a turbulent semester has really put a strain on me.

For one, who thought that English was an easy subject to study?  While this question is somewhat rhetorical, it also made me realize how much writing I have not been doing.  Last night, I attended a book signing event featuring Randall Robinson. He recently wrote a book entitled Makeda, and came to talk about it at Medgar Evers College.  And so, with all the desire I had in me to receive some guidance from the author and activists,  I asked him for advice to a young writer. “If you write then love to write but be prepared for failure.” He said, “But keep doing it until the day comes because it will come. If you love to write, write.” 

And so, here we are again, on the blank pages of a document, writing away.  I have been writing for school but have neglected to include myself in writing elsewhere; even in songwriting though I am still head over heels in love with singing.  I am learning to trust God boldly and have decided to join forces with the sun. They say home is in the heart and there is nothing like being in the place where love puts you. Love has put me on a writing frenzy and I feel wonderful and blessed.  And my inspiration came from someone who I hardly even heard about except through the words of a wisdomatic pedagogue.  

If you get the time, you should read Makeda.  Just from Robinson's storytelling, it was wonderful but when I cracked open the book, I found a world of culture and history told in a somewhat fictional way, and it was great.  If you are interested, here is the link: Link to Makeda

This year has been a stretch of strength, soft blows and sudden change. But the rich and bright colors of life have been here with a goal of reincarnating my faith to live organically breezed again. I write this with sisterly affection and intention to just share with you the minutes of my convention. I have a brand new heart and also thankfulness to all those who took the time to read my story.  God bless you!