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joy comes in the morning

It’s been all about the piano today. Was feeling really down and alone. The piano helps distract me from my nagging reality. Thanks to my 3 month free subscription to Skoove, I’ve been able to progress. I can now play a very elemental version of “Lean On Me”. I’m not really comfortable posting video of me playing. I’m working up to that though. You will have to take my word for it, I rock “Lean On Me”. I try to practice at like 20 minutes every day, giving myself one day to rest. I want to give a special shout out to my mother for giving me long fingers. I can play two notes in different octaves at the same time. These are the pieces I want to master: (in that order)

Candy Man – Helen’s Theme
I want to master this one by Halloween. I hope to be in a good place mentally so I can post myself playing it. I think it’s pretty complicated. I will have to move around the keys a great deal. This is what I call eerily beautiful.

Beethoven – No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2, “Moonlight”: Adagio
It’s a classic that touches me deeply. I will probably cry when I master this one. It’s soft, quiet, and heart-wrenching. There are several other piano sonata from Beethoven’s collection I want to learn.

David Grusin – It Might Be You (from Tootsie soundtrack)
This would have been my wedding song. Even though there will be no Mr. Lauriette, I still want to learn it. I cry every time I hear it.

One – A Chorus Line Theme Song
If you know me personally, you know I love musicals. This ‘one’ is from one of my favorite musicals.

Satie – Gymnopedie No. 1
It’s a masterpiece of romantic melancholy. It makes me think of lovers walking along the shore for the last time. Love it there but it seems to be evasive. Or it makes you think of a movie montage of lovers falling in love deeper, stronger.

I also want to learn to play: (honorable mentions)
-If Beale Street Could Talk – Agape (for the culture)
-“I Can’t Make You Love Me”- Bonnie Raitt (It’s so beautiful on the piano.)
-Beethoven: Piano No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, “Pathetique”: Adagio
-“The Way It Is” Bruce Hornsby (I need to be on level 20 for this one.)
-Chopin, Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2. (This one is a must!)

This is my digital challenge in writing. If I refuse to quit, I will accomplish these goals. I believe. No matter how long it takes.

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2019 Reading Goals

This year I plan to push myself to read more. Last year, I set a challenge of 10 books and I almost didn’t complete it. Looks like 2019 is on that bullshit as well. My life really doesn’t want me to be awesome. It’s totally interfering with my reading life. But, we are going to push through. One goal I will be focusing on this year is reading more James Baldwin. I read my first James Baldwin book last year “If Beale Street Could Talk”, and I loved it so much. I try to tell myself it’s not about the number, but I still find myself counting the books. I want to read different genres; incorporating more fantasy. That is the true challenge of getting lost in a different world, maybe a good fantasy series. I need a break from the real world.

These are a few other books I want to read this year as well: (in no particular order)

-The American Marriage by Tayari Jones (currently reading)
-The Mothers by Brit Bennett
-The Female Persuasion by Meg Molitzer
-Hunger by Roxanne Gay
-Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo
-I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin
-The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
-Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
-Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
-The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
-Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (my second try)

I will add more books as the months go by. I like to leave room for new books that may come out this year.

We will see how this goes. This year is off to a tiring depressing start. “The American Marriage” is really good but my life keeps showing up on the page. I have to read sentences over and over. Then I end up putting the book down. It’s not the book’s fault. It’s my life encroaching on my attempt to escape.

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N’Jadaka’s Face = my 2018

N’Jadaka’s face = my 2018 . and . this is simultaneously how i’m looking at 2019

I sit in Starbucks for the first time for the mere purpose of looking NY cool. I wanted to look cool having shit to do while gloating with the fact that I don’t have to go home. You know, looking like my life is so full I had to stop off at Starbucks just to take a breather before my next important business meeting. Honestly, I didn’t want to stay at home. I needed a change. Probably seems like some regular ass shit for y’all. These past 6 months have been life-changing. 2018 was life-changing. I became a grandma. I gained my own space; mind space and physical space. I’ve been home for 3 days straight. I was bugging out a bit. I’m thinking about 2018’s obvious disdain with my very existence and 2019’s possible trick bag waiting to take me out on a whole other level never reached. Every new year has proven to be the new 365 days reset challenge to see how much shit it can put me through while distracting me with 2 or 3 good things to tide me over until the next big disappointment or devastation (lil mercies).

Let’s go ahead and talk about it. This year showed me just how undesirable I truly am. A girl’s DMs, text messages, and just overall life is dry ass fuck; dry of male energy, dry of male thirst, and male curiosity. Now, when I say dry, I don’t mean empty. I’m talking dry as in 1 or 2 drops. I need more. Put it like this, I chick is thirsty, desperate, while invisible. Here is the great conundrum. I want male energy, but I only want the sweet testosterone male energy that doesn’t demand much from me, even femininity. Yeah, I don’t understand that either. It might have something to do with male confusion around me.

On to what I want to do with my 2019 before it tells me how it will be. I want to up my book challenge to 25 books from 10 books. Being that I seemingly have a lot of time on my hands, I want to devote more time reading. I want to find a good reasonably priced piano instructor to help me with learning all things piano. The long-term ultimate goal is to be able to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata AND Helen’s Theme from the Candy Man soundtrack. I’m not even gonna play myself talking about losing weight. I would like to incorporate more veggies and fruits into my diet. That’s about it on that.

Look, 2019, I want to read my books, learn the piano and welcome a saturation of sweet juicy male energy in my life. Is that too much to ask?! Well, I’m sure you are just dying to show me. Bring it on, bitch!

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2018: an authored pain

my new baby

My mother paid for me to have piano lessons back in Selma when I was a little girl. I found it to be too complicated and frustrating and I didn’t have a piano to practice the drills my piano teacher gave me after each lesson. I never did follow through. As an adult, I dreamed of taking up learning how to play the piano again, but I never imagined the possibility of it being a reality. Now, look at me with extra mental space to fill and time to dream out loud. Right now, I take a break from practicing scales, chords, and twinkle twinkle little star. It’s amazing how things work out.

Wednesday has proved to be an eventful day of the week given the news I received this year. Earlier this year, in February, my son called me to tell me he had to tell me something and that I should sit down. He goes on to say, “I’m locked up, and I have a baby on the way.” Just like that on a Wednesday. What a difference a month makes. February, my son told me from jail upstate he was going to be a father and the next month I was a grandmother. Often, there is no hand-holding when life happens.

My granddaughter coming into my life has brightened my life. I’m so grateful to her mother for bringing her here even as topsy-turvy as it may be, at the moment, while in the hands of a narcissist president. Walking into a hospital room to meet my granddaughter’s mother for the first time was one of the hardest things I had to do this year. Walking into that room knowing that all the preconceived notions waiting behind the door were all understandable given the circumstances. My son’s decisions have affected this new string of family members. They already met me in my son’s upsetting choices. They didn’t know me, but they did know my son’s current residence.

The second half of this year didn’t go as planned or expected either. I was grateful to cross off a bucket list item. Visiting Niagara Falls with my best friend for my birthday felt like it was straight out of a fantasy. We took in the tourist attractions allowing the falls to drench us from head to toe. Now that I know how this year’s story ends, this trip was the proverbial calm before the unchartered yet familiar storm of old creeping up to snatch my breath away once more.

Wednesday, August 15th I received a text from my daughter telling me she is running away to her father’s house because “she wants to be happy.” This day was already rough for me because I was on my way from home after seeing my cranky granddaughter who cried every time I tried to pick her up. I was already feeling lonely and that my granddaughter didn’t like my energy. Now, this.

The words I read on my iPhone screen made my stomach churn. I always wondered how it would happen. The pain I felt was so strong I couldn’t even respond to the woman at the bus stop as she complimented me on my shoes. I had to sit down and breathe through the beginning of the rest of my new life. The pain was from an old sore that has never had the time to heal from 10 years of custody battles. I frantically called my daughter, her father; no answer. This was simply a mother’s knee-jerk reaction. There are still no real answers, not from my daughter, only alienation. I knew what was happening, but I wasn’t ready to let go. I understand that she is under the influence of her best friend, her father. I already forgive her.

You never know how much space children take up in your mind until they are gone. These later events were authored for pain. And, I will assure you, there is still faint pain even its ripple effect. That same pain turned out to be the beginning of a new kind of freedom. For the first time in my life, I was allowed to explore the questions I never thought I could answer. Who are you outside of being a mother? What do you truly like? What are your dreams? Who are you?

Now, I sit at my laptop writing this blog as I gaze over at my keyboard of 88 keys my mother and my father bought for me. I think of my short-term and long-term goals. I didn’t even have those before. My life dictated to me what I will do, be or not accomplish. I have allowed myself to be tired of the old and now I embrace the new.

Book Review · Uncategorized

‘Praise Song for the Butterflies’ Review

71c5TOjcPSLI am interested and devoted to all things from the continent of Africa. I find myself watching video after video on youtube concerning all things African. I love to watch videos about the different cultures, languages, practices. I get knowledge from travel vlogs, documentaries, and videos from native Africans speaking about their home. This book is exactly what I needed. It shined a light on to a ritual that is merely male serving and evil. I learned about the ritual servitude/slavery that is trokosi last year and it broke my heart. These rituals always seem to involve a girl/woman giving her very life for the idea of luck or idea of being able to evade bad luck. It gives those that practice this ritual the idea that the sacrifice of someone’s life for the betterment of others is the only way to stop the so-called ‘bad luck’. To me, sacrifice is a personal commitment, not the idea of offering up another person’s life. Sacrifice your OWN life.  It’s always interesting to me when people think they can romance karma’s retreat. This book takes you on a journey to see how this practice trokosi ravished lives but at the same time helped others find their purpose. This is a story about forgiveness. This is also a story about pure evil left unchecked. This is a story about the centuries of hatred toward black girls/women bodies and how they are used as footstools in many cultures. This is also a story about how your very own family can be the authors of your darkest hour.

Trokosi is mainly practiced in Ghana, Benin, and Togo. Aside from being a black woman who has given birth to a black girl, learning about this practice personally touches me because these countries are in my DNA. Benin, Togo, and Ghana show up being the highest percentages in my DNA makeup according to ancestrydna.com. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors shared similar experiences as the young girls in this book. Ms. McFadden did a great job describing the mind of a young child and how evil creeps in to shift their perception forever. She shines a light on how lies, even little white ones, can destroy someone’s entire world. The theme of guilt is very strong in this story as well. You are able to see how everyone seemed to carry guilt in different ways. She captured the purest heart of a child. Tears were shed. Tears were shed not just due to the pain displayed but also the hope you will find in this book. If you are triggered by the mistreatment of children/women, approach this book while giving yourself self-care and take your time.

I believe in life and all that represents. I’m not really sure if I believe in bad luck or good luck. I won’t deny often wondering if this so-called bad luck has taken hold over parts of my life. However, I believe life and bad/good luck should not be used interchangeably. Life can often look like tides at sea. Sometimes gifts are brought in through the tide and other times hard lessons. Its ever moving, ever changing, ever evolving. It is up to us to constantly adjust to how we react to said life. Sometimes there are calming ripples and other times the waves of life will try to rip you apart. Yet, you still manage to find a reason to smile in the midst of it all. This is a story about how Abeo’s life was turned upside down because life happened and someone else decided she had to pay with her innocence. It’s touching, honest, and painful. It’s all the things life is made of.

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Resist Afropunk?

 

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warning: no caps, wonky punctuation.. why? i’m over it

it always amazes me how 2 people can be at the same event but walk away with different accounts of the experience.. i know what it is with afropunk.. there will be pompous you can’t sit with us folks there.. it’s in brooklyn.. better yet it’s in NY.. that is to be expected..

the 1st time i went back in 2014 i was put off by the way the afropunk goers were stuck up.. not speaking.. not acknowledging each other’s excellence.. i decided to push through because it was a great festival with a real concept.. for us, by us.. i understand why people speak of the good ole days when afropunk was free.. once capitalism enters the building changes happen..

yeah, capitalism & the need to grow will always change the face of any corporation.. it’s sad to say.. but, so long as the music is there & the beautiful people are there.. i will continue to make it what i want it to be.. i won’t throw the baby out with the bath water just yet.. we have become a society of knee jerk reactions on a continuous loop.. what are we cancelling next?

i understand if others need to give it up.. you must practice stiff self love practices… i won’t silence those with memories of better days.. thing is when i found out about afropunk i had to pay $$ for my experience.. it’s hard to keep these types of festivals free..

i understand why vip is a thing.. it’s just not my jam.. i want to mingle with my folks.. you know, the broke folks.. in all seriousness, i did see how celebs couldn’t chill & have a good time like everyone else.. last year poor jessica williams couldn’t live her best life because fans kept interrupting her time with a friend.. unfortunately, any time vip is introduced it just gives off this haughtiness i loathe, ugh.. but, i get it..

my suggestions: please bring afropunk to harlem.. i think afropunk could benefit from a change of scenery.. shift the atmosphere.. also, white people need to be encouraged to tread lightly when entering our space.. personally, i have mixed feelings about their presence.. hire more professional security.. and, they need to be placed at exits.. leaving the park after the last act almost gave me a panic attack.. not sure if outside food is allowed.. it should be.. afropunk is already getting its coint upfront.. people should be allowed to bring in outside food.. continue to hand out free water to those in the front rows because so many people fainted.. keep doing that.. i also suggest maybe forming a panel where people can voice their concerns, frustrations, suggestions about afropunk.. we are passionate because we love it so much.. don’t close us out.. the survey is a nice touch.. actually listen to the people..

i still manage to continue to meet awesome people & learn about new artists i end up falling in love with beyond afropunk.. i want afropunk to be better, do better.. just not sure if people make it better or organizers.. maybe it’s a collaborative effort.. how do we resist the very thing that gives us space to be true to ourselves? not sure.. i don’t have the answers.. i am sorry people had a horrible experience.. it’s real.. i know it’s true what they speak of.. i see the tranformation.. i see the people losing the grasp of afropunk’s heart..

if you are interested in seeing my 2018 afropunk experience in pic and video form, head over to my instagram @belauriette

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