Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I am ready.  So ready to transform this house some more.  I have a love/hate relationship with our Queen Mum.  Sometimes, I am dazzled by her stateliness, endurance and potential, other times I wish she was a brand new modern condo.  My dream for this house is somewhere between restoring her to her original grandeur and updating everything with just a wink to her history.

I’ve visited blogs and websites of people who have been in this same 100+ year old Victorian ship that we’re in.  I’ve seen some scary befores and inspiring afters, and they make me want to make this house all that it can be – inside and out.  HomeBoy and I, for the sake of our savings and sanity, are taking things slowly.  Last year, we focused on the LR and DR; not too shabby, if I may say so.  Both rooms still need finishing touches, but we’ve made great progress.

This spring and summer, I want to take things to the next level.  No, seriously.  We’re going to do some work upstairs.  The initial and ambitious plan is to finish all the floors, repair a little cracked plaster, customize our bedroom closet and paint and paint and paint.  We’ve already been to Home Depot and made some color decisions; it went relatively quickly because I knew what I wanted.  Warm colors are downstairs, so we’re doing all cool colors upstairs – calming, soothing blues and greens and gray (for the office). 

We’ve learned quite a bit from last year’s projects:

1) Projects should be done in a specific order to minimize unnecessary work.  Last year, we had the floors done before we did the painting, and though we were very careful, there were still a few spills to pine over and clean up.  This brings me to the next learning...

2) We are not painters.  You put on your coveralls and your scarf and it’s all cute for about an hour; then you want to call the crew that HGTV keeps off camera.  I will be pricing some interior painters; if the cost is reasonable, I will gladly turn over my brush and roller. 

3) There will be times, outside of moving into a new place, where you will have to lift your furniture, and it will suck.  

4) And finally (for the moment at least), house renovating is hard work.  Take the time and appreciate the process.  Sure we worked on weekends then went to work on Monday; sure we came home to a dining room covered in tarp and tape and a bedroom with a dining table and chairs in it; sure taking a full couch up a full flight of stairs will make you feel like every push-up you’ve ever done in life meant nothing.  But when the tarp comes up, the furniture goes down and you love what you see – it is all worth it.


image from this cool blog.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Words to Live By

"Don't stop till you get enough."

-Michael Jackson

The Prototype

The first time I saw Love Jones, it was in the theaters.  I was in the seventh grade, and I remember going to the movies with a friend of mine – still high from Erykah Badu’s debut album, and couldn’t wait to see a good romantic drama about black love.  (Though I doubt we would have articulated it that way back then.)  From the leather, denim and sepia saturated cinematography to the bluesy soundtrack to the flawless beauty of Nia Long, everything about that movie excited me.  And Darius Lovehall (Lorenz Tate)?  Darius Lovehall was the best thing since sliced bread. 

The character’s pomposity and wordplay were an intoxicating combination that could make you slap him and still invite him in to “talk”.  I’d experimented with writing poetry by this time, but Love Jones introduced me to the performance aspect.  Though it would be a little while before I began performing, from the night I left the theater I was hooked.  Spoken word was this intellectual, grown and sexy thing in my mind, and Darius Lovehall was it’s patron saint.

Fast forward some years, and I’m at the New York comedy club about to slam against some dude named Talaam Acey.  I’d never heard of him and the prize was a paltry $25 (enough to cover the drink minimum, the host joked), but no matter –  this was just for the love of words.  I. Was. Floored. He had an amazing way of intertwining sensuality and social commentary ( p**sy and politics) that tricked the audience into learning something.  His delivery was wonderful; his demeanor – haughty and humble at the same time.  After a close judging, we complimented each other and I invited him to a bi-monthly open mic in Jersey City.

When he showed up to my stomping ground in JC, he brought some copies of his latest CD to sell.  The title was Morally Bankrupt, and it was the best $10 I ever spent.  I played it on all-day repeat for weeks, and I dethroned the fictional Darious Lovehall as patron saint of spoken word because here was a man who made Mr. Lovehall sound like a beginner.  Since our first meeting, I have purchased two more of his CDs and even saw Talaam when he came to KCMO earlier this year.  (It was a Tuesday night, folks.  I don’t go out on week nights for just anybody.) 

He’s made a living at this performance poetry thing for over a decade.  He travels and performs and writes.  He’s still just as haughty and humble.  He’s still teaching audiences on the sly.  And for a limited time only, he has a free download (courtesy of Microsoft) of a piece called “Five Women”.  I’ve listened and I enjoy it; though I think some of his earlier work had more fervor.  Check it out, if you have a chance.  For some, this will be an introduction; for others, sweet nostalgia.  Either way, I offer a taste of the Good Deacon and his Reformed Church of Lyrical Lucidity.  (Oom Sha-lock-lock.)*


*The italics reference specific pieces of Talaam’s poetry.  Though I would like to take credit for “The reformed church of lyrical lucidity”, I cannot.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Time Traveling

I had lunch with a Colleague the other day.  We talked of creativity and occupation and ULTIMATE LIFE PURPOSE – nice light conversation.  As we talked, Colleague began to muse about the near future, “…in three years, I’ll be 26.”  And just like that, I was older.  Colleague’s future is my present.  In 3 more years, I’ll be 29 for the first time…

Last weekend, I attended my baby brother’s high school graduation; it was yet another reminder of the passage of time.  his current milestone was my past cornerstone in a foundation that has, thankfully and prayerfully, been building upward ever since.  Combine that with all the recent weddings and babies, and it’s a surprise I haven’t started to grunt when I get up from a chair or forget my sunglasses are on top of my head.

“I feel my mortality,” Colleague said. 

“It’s better than the illusion of immortality,” I replied.

“But ignorance was so much fun.”


“Yeah, but I wouldn’t go back to not knowing.”  We both agreed on that.  We both also have had the experience of growing up as mature youths – old souls, wise beyond our years or whatever.  It’s funny how you can be those things without ever feeling like a grown up.

“I feel like a grown-up now,” Colleague said.  So what does this mean?  Maybe it’s like the bird feeder said – about feeling the changes as they approach (and while in the midst of them, I might add). 

As a purported Millenial, I am part of the “it” group right now.  Everybody wants to know what we think/feel/want.  That could easily be no more than our society’s obsession with youth culture.  What about when this glorified decade passes?  Who will we be then, and will anybody care?  

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not Post-Its, "Post-ettes" - as in little ones

stayed up last night watching Caveman Valentine with Sam Jackson. while his ridiculous hair distracted me from his character development, initially, i found the story very interesting. at the end of the film it occured to me that maybe the only difference between an eccentric and a nutcase is their tax bracket.

dear lady on the NJ Transit train who asked me about the Trenton stop,

i didn't know that the train we were on was a local and that it would stop in Trenton. i hope you weren't too late for you appointment. in my defense, i had just stepped onto the train. i should have looked for the ticket attendant and asked. i didn't lie to you; you asked if it was the 8:32 to Trenton, and i said it was the 8:25 to Long Branch. that's why i was on it. anyway, i know how much it sucks to get lost, so I hope you had safe travels in spite of my back advise.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Requisite Birthday Post


A colleague of mine saw a Kenneth Koch book on my desk last week, and he engaged me in a brief yet enthusiastic conversation about the author/poet.  Later that same day, said colleague left this poem on my desk, and though I am still in my twenties it feels appropriate to share:

To My Twenties

How lucky that I ran into you

When everything was possible

For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart

And so happy to see any woman--

O woman! O my twentieth year!

Basking in you, you

Oasis from both growing and decay

Fantastic unheard of nine- or ten-year oasis

A palm tree, hey! And then another

And another--and water!

I'm sill very impressed by you. Whither,

Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,

Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable

For the moment in any case, do you live now?

From my window I drop a nickel

By mistake. With

You I race down to get it

But I find there on

The street instead, a good friend,

X-- N--, who says to me

Kenneth do you have a minute?

And I say yes! I am in my twenties!

I have plenty of time! In you I marry,

In you I first go to France; I make my best friends

In you, and a few enemies. I

Write a lot and am living all the time

And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you

After my teens and before my thirties.

You three together in a bar

I always preferred you because you were midmost

Most lustrous apparently strongest

Although now that I look back on you

What part have you played?

You never, ever, were stingy. What you gave me you gave whole

But as for telling

Me how to best use it

You weren't a genius at that.

Twenties, my soul

Is yours for the asking

You know that, if you ever come back.


I am not familiar with Koch’s work, but I definitely want to get acquainted now.


And as I am in the habit of creating connections and naming things, I hereby christen this my Marathon Year.  Whatever does that mean?  Well, bare with me as I make something up, won’t you?  Twenty-six is the number of  miles in a marathon; the Greek myth of the battle of Marathon concludes with a foot soldier running the distance of 26 miles, despite fatigue, to tell of a victory against the Persians.

lesson #1: fight through the fatigue

lesson #2: try to have good news

Marathon runners today have tremendous endurance and strength, though you can’t always tell by looking at them.  They train hard and often, but always give themselves time to recover.  The night before a race is critical; they always eat well and rest up.

lesson #3: endure

lesson #4: never reveal all of your strength

lesson #5: give yourself time to recover

lesson #6: carbs are okay, if you have a long journey ahead

In the case of the Battle of Marathon, the Persians outnumbered the Athenians 4 to 1.  In the case of modern day marathons, those who start strong don’t always finish strong.  Yes, training and preparation are key, but there are always variables we cannot foresee.  It would behoove me to remember this the next time I’m feeling like I’ll never get ahead or when I’m feeling like I can’t be stopped.  Both self perceptions are false and could cost me dearly.  A lot can happen in twenty-six miles, which brings me to my final lesson:

lesson #7: it’s anybody’s race

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Silly, but true - a retropost

(This actually happened a few weeks ago.  I can laugh at it now because it's over.)

I came back from a meeting to find a tiny bug on my screen.  I flicked it, but it didn’t move.  Why?  Because it was beneath the glass of my monitor.  I had to watch it crawl – up, down, across, along the edge.  I called IT, 

“This is going to sound weird, but um, there’s a bug in my computer and I can see it crawling around, but it’s beneath the screen so I can’t kill it.”  


“I was wondering if I should use some compressed air or something; I think it must have gotten in there through the speaker holes.”

“Well, uh…” 

He’s obviously struggling to find a response.  I put him out of his misery.“It’s not really affecting my work.” That’s a lie.  I was totally losing my shit as this thing crawled across my word documents and excel spreadsheets and NY Times homepage. 

“Well, there’s nothing we can really do.  What kind of computer do you have?”

“An all-in-one.”

“If any more show up, we can replace the entire unit.  Definitely call back if you see any more.”

“Okay.  I’m sure this is the weirdest thing you’ve heard all day.”


He laughs to make me feel less lame.  Thank you, IT Guy.  I hang up the phone convinced that this is karmic payback for the innumerous and terrible puns that I have tossed about with reckless abandon.  I changed my desktop wall paper, which was a super focused and close cropped photo of a flower petal.  (Do I look like I’m kidding?)  I opted for a black and white landscape shot with a few strong lightning bolts in the middle.  If this little nuisance was going to traipse around on my screen, I didn’t have to sit there and bare witness.  Of course when I open anything that wasn’t a predominantly black screen – there it was!

I haven’t seen the little bugger all day.  I guess it’s gone, as quickly, quietly and uneventfully as it had come.  I couldn’t be happier.  In the future, I’ll be more sparing with my bad puns, but I’m tucking this experience away for a time when I am old, quirky and have to be tolerated.  Then I will turn to the young’uns and say, “Ask me about the time my computer had a bug.”