Thursday, December 10, 2009

Digging Deep To Find The Me Inside

There’s a gospel song with the lyrics, “As I look back over my life—and I think things over—I can truly say—that I’ve been blessed—I gotta a testa-m-on-y!” And it’s true that I’ve been blessed over the years. Just this morning I was thinking how much I was blessed to just have to take one bus to and from work when some of my co-workers travel up to two hours to get to the same place. I was thinking the other day when I shot out in traffic to make the light how blessed I was (then) that God made it so that no other cars crashed into me. I owe so much of my existence to the mercy and grace (undeserved) to Christ, my Savior. But after all He does for me day after day I’ve become so distant from Him. The things I’m fortunate in having or experiencing no matter how great or small deserves some recognition and praise to the giver, because who am I to think that all I have is a birthright when people are dying every second in this world?

I believe that everything happens for a reason. So with that, I won’t say that the events that have transpired over the last twelve months were all bad or all a mistake. I also believe that in this life you are given the right to choose your destiny to some degree because with the certain obstacles or paths to take in life—it’s really up to us to choose which way to go. I am very scattered this morning, I know. I have so much that I want to say, but not sure if I should share it here. What I’m really saying is that over this past year I’ve made some changes—changes that might have been dramatic to some, shocking even. I lost about thirty pounds, fell in love, got an apartment, moved in with a guy, and just became so wrapped up into his world that I probably lost track of things. One of the biggest things I misplaced was my desire to write (completely). It’s like all I wanted and still want to do is be around, up under, beside and with him. On top of that and all those feelings and emotions of a relationship, I’m dealing with the actuality of being a grownup (which sucks bytheway).

Okay wait a minute, I just lied when I said writing was one of the biggest things I’ve misplaced—one of the most significant changes in my life is my fellowship with God. I haven’t been to church in months, besides a brief Thanksgiving service a couple of weeks ago. I was never a big reader of the bible (except during Sunday school or bible study) so I can’t really include that, but I guess I just sort of disappeared spiritually. Right here, I’m not going to blame anyone but myself here because I chose to do all of these things. I own up to it and will accept it. It’s just so weird lately—my life and the things I think about—how I got here compared to where I was last year. Sometimes I here myself thinking out loud that “god, I wish I was back in Mankato where everything was simplier.” (I know simplier is not a word). Some days I’m just like seriously this is happening? Seriously I’m going through this blah, blah, blah. I tell you—for all of the people who think you may love someone you only really know until that love is tried and tested and only then you will know that this will either make or break us.

All of these things relate to one another—God, writing, me, him, us, life. Writing still is affected by the transition I’m making in my life but I won’t even abandon it totally because deep down in one of the cockles of my heart it’s still there silently waiting to be my friend again.

I’m not going to proofread this because this is only the beginning of what I have to say.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some Afternoon Mush

Being in love is like floating on some imaginary bubble that will never bust or let you rise too high too fast. I never thought I would touch this feeling--these emotions that makes my world alright. With the bumps in the road, I become stronger and more confident in this gift that I've been given.

Each time I look, touch, laugh with, eat with, cuddle with, laugh some more with, argue with, and just be with him I know that this is it. This is crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Nobody knows how much my heart will never be the same again. I'm open and ready to keep on falling.

It's easy to say you love someone, but to sacrifice like he has for me is a testament to why we can't be shaken no matter what.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help! Like That Beetles Song


I'm writing, writing and scratching my head trying to figure out who the hell this women is. What kind of person does she sound like? What are any thoughts--seriously, anything.

Opening Prayer
… And I say unto you, Lord, you are my light and my salvation of whom shall I fear? You are the strength of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

The deacon will always be apart of me now that he’s gone. Storm clouds may rise and strong winds may blow, but he’ll still be here beside me silently praying for my soul. The deacon was my lover and also a friend. He was the one man I thought could change my world—make me a better Jamie and saint of God. But who was I fooling; being a saint of God was the last thing on my mind when he would stretch me across his alters of praise to devour my sins. Sometimes I can be a real jerk when it comes to faith and sex and believing in God and doing the right things like not sleeping around with husbands. But I’m trying to be honest here because that’s what the saints want to hear. The first time I heard him preach I knew I had to have him. Lila McCree and his three children were the last things on my mind. I didn’t care about a wife waiting by the phone for him to call or repetitiously peeking behind lavender Priscillas hoping he’d come home. On those nights, mornings, days I wanted him wrapped comfortably inside of me so that I could be his shelter in the time of storm. Some of the saints upon hearing my story might want to pick up a stone and Mary Magdalene me, but they would be throwing out of ignorance.

Some Things to Live By

Two wise quotes from a wise women that I admire.

"It's not how much you make--it's how much you can save."

"It's not necessary to live paycheck to paycheck."

--Jackie S.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Speak to Me Jaime Thome

Somehow I've become addicted to iced coffee and talking about people. This is not good. Sometimes I feel like a real jerk, sometimes I just want to say "and who are you again?"

Time goes by so quickly. I'm scattered and trying to find my writing identity. My life is different now. I'm not the same person I used to be. I like who I am. Somedays. I searching for something that doesn't want to be found--apparently.

I'll give $20 to the first person who can tell me what it all means.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Novel Here I Come

Last week I received an email from a New York Literary Agency that's looking to expand their clientele and wanted to know if I was working on a novel. I think this is the question I need to get me writing again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


My Darling Diana,

Why am I prohibited from your blog--is there something I should know?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Remember Me

It's been a while I know, but eveything's still everything. I'm still happy. I'm still alive and getting ready to venture into something new. I'm excited about the release of the Crab Orchard Review in a couple of weeks--it'll be nice to see my words in print. I'm still avoiding the novel (even though I told Slee I wouldn't). I'm getting better though. I visited a Barnes & Noble last friday looking for my darling Diana's (which they didn't have in stock--only the store in downtown Chicago) when I felt all writerly, like I should be doing it. But what can I say, my first love has shifted to something human that smiles at me when I smile at it. But I can say that my love for character and story isn't completely dead.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walking With Love Under My Umbrella

If it's raining outside I don't care. I'm going to walk down this wet and soggy street with joy in my heart and a sap song (that I'll hum to) in my head. This is me being free and in love, in love. Funny I never thought such feelings would or could creep up on me. Funny, I was always the destroyer of love--the girl who created stories about the silliness in the thought of being connected to one soul (that could be a mate). But now I don't care about any of it because I'm walking down this street counting the raindrops as that plop, plop on my umbrella with joy in my heart and love right next to me.

He was made just for me.
He's my passion right now and really the only one I see.

Monday, March 23, 2009

LUKE: The Robin To My Batman

Luke n' Vodka
Aw Luke, you were drunk--this is true. You were saying some strange things about taking shots of vodka, disco dancing, and yellow thread. I appreciated your lack of equilibrium and shrugged it off saying, "His comments were the only ones that mattered in workshop." I miss those days of writing true (lol) and you. It's okay if your memory of me on that last night at AWP is somewhat of a dream because I was there and so were you.

On Writing
You're freakin' inspiring me to write. Since the last time we spoke all I've been thinking about lovin'. I've been lovin' so tough that writing has become somewhat of a distant cousin, but I remember those days in Mankato. I remember writing pieces that would 'ring true' to some in workshop. I remember you always telling me, send stuff out. And me shrugging before saying, yeah I guess. Reading your trials and tribs as your writing life blossoms is moving me. It is true that I'm on the verge of falling in love, not with writing, but with some flesh and bones. But how can I neglect the one thing that sets me apart from others? How can I say to writing, 'bye, bye love?" I dunno why things unfold the way they do, but you are inspiring me to go back to Toni Kay. We are suppose to exchange stories, but I have to actually work on some first. What do you think about the words I'm writing? Is there any hope for your thesis reading partner? Did ACM contact you? I was suppose to be going back and intern to keep you abreast on the happenings of your publication--I suck sometimes, and you can say this and not be afraid of any repercussions because after speaking with the editor at AWP I still haven't returned. Luke, what's wrong with me--do you know?

On Rejections
Let the rejections roll off your back, man. You've been published like eighty times so don't sweat the Nos. When you send your stories to the places where they want to call home they won't come back to you. Remember that night at Diana's and it was raining more cats than dogs and we were there to get our signatures and we started talking about rejections and Diana showed us the box of rejections (I think there was 30 rejects for one story) and we both looked at the box and felt a bit of relief because our teacher didn't let that dissuade her and we both knew she had made something out of her writing life? So now I'm saying to you--the person who will always be the Robin to my Batman--DON'T SWEAT IT! You are a better writer than that to result to the circle of people who whine about being rejected. Man up and keep writing.

Mind you, all these words are coming from a person who hasn't written in months. Like in workshop, take what helps.

Toni Kay

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Hi Nettie, guess who? I want to wish you a happy birthday and also let you know that I finally figured out how to reach these kids. Love you lots and may your day be filled with smiles.
I miss you terribly,


Monday, February 16, 2009

Tipping Towards Goodness

"What do you like to eat?" she said.

"Anything that you cook," he said.

And like that they were in love. Simple.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Other Third of Me

Today I am not Antoinette. I’m drinking coffee to stay awake. I’m picking at the skin around my finger nails. Today I’m thinking, thinking, thinking. Today I’m emotional and barely running off an hour worth of sleep. This is crazy. Today I have a lack of direction. Who is this person I’ve become? Please don’t ask me what’s wrong. Please don’t try to get anything out of me. I’m doing things I shouldn’t, but I have it under control. I’m just thinking too much. I’m just falling in a hole, but not really.

Today I’m Neenah Barcelona; no one has met her yet. Today Neenah is trying to make a conscious decision involving her heart and what’s best for her. Today Neenah is wrapped up in a situation that could potentially cause some heartache, but will be a good learning experience. Learning experiences are healthy for human living, right? Neenah seems to think so. Today Neenah wants time to stop for two seconds to catch her breath. Today Neenah will crunch on cups and cups of pellet ice so she can shiver, so she can stay awake.

Sometimes Neenah and I create situations that will cause us stress. Toni Kay doesn’t like when we get this way. If it was up to her every day would be peaches and cream. If you’re reading this and wondering what it all means, just know that Toni Kay would tell you but Neenah and I won’t. This is just the way things are today. Sometimes we get like this. Sometimes we think too much about everything and nothing gets accomplished. Sometimes we allow stupidity to take the front seat to common sense—things we know better not to do. Humph, maybe we’re just pre-PMSing.

Yesterday, a boy told me that women are sometimes too emotional. He said something else, but I wasn’t listening (too busy trying to figure him out). Tomorrow I’ll forget about what he said. Tomorrow I’ll be better. Every body has these days when things just aren’t quite right—your selves not quite welded the way they should be. Don’t worry (Marie) if you’re reading this. I’m tripping. We do that a lot. These are just words with a little feeling mixed in between.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Minis and Me

I am in a state of horror—no, make that outrage. In the blistering cold I traveled from Starbucks to Starbucks searching for the one thing that would start my morning off right – a package of Starbucks black and white iced cookies. Out of the three franchises on North Michigan Avenue I came out each empty handed.

How is this possible? How could this be that in Chicago, on the Mag Mile I couldn’t find these cookies? It’s so not fair. It’s so not cool for Starbucks to suck so bad. I mean seriously, enough of the $5 beverages and $8 crust-less sandwiches—give me the damn cookies! My anger doesn’t only extend to the franchises downtown either. Yesterday I went searching for the cookies at a Starbucks in Lansing, IL. and came out of that store empty handed as well.

… let me tell you how the cookies and I fell in love. It was a cold Saturday night in January. I was feeling content, but had just a touch of melancholy while walking down the deserted streets of Schaumburg, IL. Like I said, my world was moving but it could have been better when all of a sudden I saw the sign, the big illuminated green lights and something inside of me fluttered. I was being lured toward green but I didn’t mind. Once inside I was greeted with the strong smell of coffee, but I wasn’t interested in that. I wanted something to lift me higher or brighten things up, so to speak. And that’s when I saw them—the cookies, both iced with white and chocolate icing in a moon-like shape. Instantly, I knew I had to have them, but refused to let the perky blonde cashier see my vulnerable side. So I perused the counter looking at other cookies for like six seconds before I picked up the package, handed it (along with money) for the check out. With the first bite into the spongy piece of heaven I was smitten. There will never be another coffee shop cookie that will make my heart sing like the mini cookies.

Damn you Starbucks, damn!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Come To Me Baby

Oh, you were the one that always made the wrong things right. When my world was topsy turvy just one minute with you would make everything more than sweet. Sitting here typing, drowsy and sinking, I come to realize I miss you. We don't spend time anymore. I barely see you, sleep. This separation is killing me ever so softly. I need to feel your touch and the way things were when my life was normal and bedtime was at 9:15 p.m. I feel as though we've disconnected like a friendship that's fading fast. It's become apparent that I can't hang out with the late crowd. I can't be without you so come back to me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In this place we all call home for eight hours strange things happen. Things that sometimes can't be explained. Things that sometimes leaves the world standing still just a little bit longer. At work people are expected to produce, negoitiate, lie, whine, eat, adjust their chairs in five minute intervals, clear their throats and try to be normal. Being normal is something Norm knows about. He's the kind of guy that will hit the back of a colleague's chair all while humming Another Bites The Dust. Norm is one of those cool dudes that hits the backs of his coworkers chairs as he passes by, and tells overweight, self-conscious women in the office, Hell, you sure look fat today. And after saying something like this to Fatty Patty, who avoids wearing stripes no matter what Elle says, normal Norm will scamper off to the water cooler to refresh himself. He won't think about office etiquette or the fact that men shouldn't ever bring up a woman's weight.

Working brings out the best in some of us, but in others it carves away our asshole centers. Being an asshole is something Ashley knows about. She's the kind of woman worker that believes in busting balls with a jackhammer motion. In the office, this women will dissemble a male co worker's ego without breaking a sweat. She loathes testosterone and thinks women wearing black DK suits are empowered individuals up for the challenge of life and moving ahead. Moving ahead is something Ashley knows about. She was the first woman in the office to crack her boss's balls with a nutcracker.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sleeping Softly

When on the job, the best thing you can do when sleepy is to not think about sleeping.
---Neena Barcelona

So I’m at work and I am dead tired. I cannot focus. I cannot think. I stayed up too late. My eyelids feel like two bumble bees have snuggled in tightly on each of them with their little bulb bodies wrapped up for warmth and comfort. I have contemplated twice of briskly walking to the bathroom, entering through the door, choosing the largest stall, cleaning off the largest stall’s ivory colored toilet seat and sitting down for a snooze. I’ve resorted to picking and biting the skin and exposed cuticle are my fingernails in this fight with the sluggish monster. He wants my blood and bones. I’ve resorted to being unproductive. He’s preventing me from getting on the phone.

This has to stop. In a desperate attempt to take back the control of my eyelids, I broke my water diet to drink a cup of Starbucks coffee with hazelnut cream. The hazelnut cream wasn’t a good idea. I’m not a coffee drinker, but my situation was and is dire. I continued to nod off until I went to the washroom not to sleep, but to douse my face with water. Before the water dousing, I sat at my desk trying to write down about twelve hospital names. During these attempts, I would jerk awake to find the blue ball point pen I was writing with relaxed in my hand at a slant on yellow tablet paper. It was embarrassing to look down at the words I had scribbled and not remember when I had written them.

Now that the coffee and water seems to be kicking in I can work, but I still wish that it was 2:15p and I only had an hour and forty-five minutes left to work. Today I’m going to change my 2009 life in several ways: 1. I will begin my writing regiment at 6p. 2. I will change my mind about attending AWP. 3. I will get some sleep. 4. I will think some more about my image and words post card idea. 5. I will be a better me. 6. I will remember how it felt when I had dreams. 7. I will smile when I think of how exciting my life is as an artist. 8. I will be grateful for the gift. 9. I will not be so Antoinette when it comes to creating and embrace Toni Kay. 10. I will, I will … I will be.

So like a thief in the night, the sleep that weighed on my back like a hog has vanished. I feel somewhat restored and ready to earn my pay. I feel like maybe there is some truth to the phrase ‘mind over matter’. Even though the sluggish monster has decided to lay dormant I’m still picking at the skin around my fingernails. Pick, pick, picking—well, maybe I’m half way there.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stream of Consciousness - Flowing, Flowing, Flow

I’m upset I bought these Timberland boots now. I’m upset because they gush all over my feet like slop or soup (if that makes sense) but it probably doesn’t because it’s coming from me. Me, this person that’s typing, writing these words that may not make a bit of sense now but one day they, me, you, these words will all come together in the end like a rainbow. I’m feeling good now and that’s directly related to one person. Person—a human being with feelings, faults, fun things to say, and failures. We all have these things because we are human and not perfect, but that’s okay that we’re not perfect as long as we strive to do the right thing. Thing—things are fun sometimes. Sometimes there’s so many things to do that I don’t know which thing is more important than the next thing. Then the next thing I know my world, life, existence is crowded and being slowly suffocated by things. Do you like things? I probably won’t care if you do so don’t feel obligated to answer or keep reading for that matter because this might be a complete waste of your time. Time—the most precious thing on earth that God could give besides Jesus and our life. Sometimes time can work against us or not be on our side like the song says, but maybe that’s a lie to. Lie—something that’s not the truth and can cause hurt and pain unnecessarily.

Now I’m upset I bought these Timberlands. There a light nubuck color and I don’t like light nubuck colors because they make my feet look big. Feet—feet are good for walking. Now the boots looks months old and I just got them on Sunday. My friend Marie bought some boots, Timberlands, but I bet they don’t look like mines—light nubuck color and big. Big on her feet—I bet they don’t look. This is stupid, but then isn’t a lot of things stupid? Who knows? Whenever I would say this to my godfather (who knows?) he would respond, “The shadow knows.” This is a line from an old television show before my time, before the dinosaurs. This is my time to figure out what’s going on in my life – what’s next career-wise, my motive for being—my purpose. Purpose—purposes are completed so lets glaze over this one unless you don’t want to glaze over anything that important, but maybe you don’t think it’s important. My friend Marie told me to re-read the Purpose Driven Life book. I told her I never finished the first time. She loves me and encourages me even when I don’t deserve it—I’m glad she’s around. Around—I’m glad you’re around too: Konahe, Tenika, Hannah, Niki, Slee, Luke, Diana, Steph, Diana (#1), Shirls, Candace, P. Martin, Kesha, Darryl, Denise, Laquetta, Lima Red, and others.

This is me being upset about a pair of boots that I thought I liked in the store, but after wearing them several times I think they are making me ill. Feeling ill, I tell my co-worker that I think the purified water in the purified water cooler is making me ill. I told her this yesterday, but today I realize that I’m just going through withdrawal from drinking so much pop. It’s been four days and I’m still making it without the fizzing devil. Sometimes I joke that I need some dirt in my water—good ole Chicago tap. There are four people that I need to call back this week. I don’t want them to think I’m such a busy person that I can’t return a phone call because I’m not. To the four people waiting to hear from me, my phone call is on the way. By the way, with a show of hands how many people are happy to be alive today? Okay, I know I can’t actually see the hands, but ponder on this blessing for a minute. Minute—it takes a minute to laugh, a minute to be born, cry and die. Okay, what’s next maybe the news—haven’t watch it in a while. Well, how about an international headline: “Woman Being Charged With First Degree Murder For Setting Her Sleeping Husband’s Penis Afire.” This is crazy. I read this yesterday and was horrified. She said she didn’t mean to kill him. She said he was cheating and she had an innocence hug he gave some woman as proof for her claim. She said she loved him, but what he had was hers’. This lady lives in Austria or Australia—I can’t remember, but I wish she hadn’t killed him or saw that infamous hug.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Water N' Me

This is a fight I'm determined to win. This drinking of water for an entire month won't be the end of me or who I am. Even though the taste of it disgusts me by the minute, hour, day I'm going to pressed through. I was challenged by someone to drink nothing but H2O for thirty days. At first I wanted to through my hands up and say forget about it, but then I thought "it's only water I can do it."
Before I go any further let me explain how much I love the acidic devil Pop. My relationshiop with this carbonated beverage is one of love and understanding. Ever since I was a child Coke Cola, Pepsi, Strawberry Crush, and Sprite has been there for me when ever I almost died of thirst or just wanted some comfort. When ever I sit down for a meal, a glass of those fizzing bubbles is right there ready and willing to be consumed. This is the kind of matrimony I've grown accustomed to. Even though this relationship maybe detrimental to my health, I still yearn for it. With Pop, I'm like a true lover living on the edge. Edges are good. I like edges.
Okay--stop, all this talk about letting go and water and thirty days is bringing me down. I have to go now. The water machine at my jobs is calling me, and like a lame dumb sheep, I must answer.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This Time I'm Gonna Treat You Right

My relationship with the novel inside of me is complicated. Some days we're on one accord, and other days we live inside the one room shack, which is my imagination, like two clammed-up fish pissed to hell at one another. This is our life. On days when I'm feeling a bit in the mood for love, Novel woos me towards the computer with a little character here and the perfect balance of scene and summary there. It's on these days when I need a little literary healing that I fall head over heels for Novel, so much so that I become delirious by love and the look of his prose. Sometimes I might lie about my feelings for him, but deep inside I know he's the one thing that I'll always come back to like that Isley Brothers song, Voyage to Atlantis.

On other days our relationship sucks like an old sack of smellly balls. It's on days like this when he doesn't know what to say to me and I sure as hell don't know what to say to him, and we sit in our one room shack pouting like six year olds with our backs to one another and minds speechless. To mend the fence, Novel will eventually start speaking again and I'll give in, but relunctantly so because in my heart I know that this won't be the last time. With a couple flowing sentences, he gets me to think again, and things become good again like before the hurricane. During times like these when I'm high in the spirits, I'll sing to Novel so mellifluously because despite the way we fuss and fight, I know he my baby.

The relationship between Novel and I is quite complicated. We live in this one room shack trying to get love right day after day. We argue, fight, make peace, then argue some more because our worlds wouldn't be right without this type of unbalance. Sometimes we fly so high together that the ground seems days away, and other times we don't. But no matter how things fall apart we always say, "This time I'm gonna do you right, and we do."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sing It To Me

There's something about a Damien Rice song that makes one, upon listening to it, feel all raw and achy inside. Achy like a mid-December flu or cold. This is the power of music--this is the power of feeling an emotion so tough and wrong that you (meaning Damien) can't do anything but lose control on the track. With gut-wrenching screams, yells and wails this odd little white fellow sings to me. He sings in a way that I become lost in his world of heartaches, snot-slinging sobs and fast or slow heart palpitations that ensures the end is near. For this kind of pain is only fitting for lovers. This kind of hurt is what makes the world of good music go 'round. The art of communicating this kind of sadness is amazing to me. I absolutely love Damien's music and have to admit I'm quite surprised he's still alive. What manner of man can live his days singing in pain to a lover that could care less? What kind of person could sustain such misery?

Damien's songs, his hurt, pain--this train of thought, is leading me to think of an episode of Super Nanny where this couple, who were separate, was having problems with the kiddies when the father decided to leave the home. Even though the Dad would come by the family's home every night to tuck the children in they continued to misbehave because they could see how their Mom was falling apart. (Sometimes adults fail to realize how smart children are. Just when we think they aren't listening or couldn't possible understand what it looks like when Daddy doesn't love Mommy anymore they surprise us every time). Anyway, the heartbreaking part of the story is this, Super Nanny Joe, comes right out and asks Dad (who had been keeping his wife on the fence for months without any answer to whether their marriage was over or not) if he wanted to work things out, and just like a maverick without a care in the world he said, "No, no I don't." Cue the Damien Rice song--"I Remember" perhaps. Needless to say, the wife was devastated. How do you cover up that kind of hurt? Here's a woman loving a man like living water, and here's the living water refusing to quench her thirst. On television with thirty million people tuned in--again, how do you cover up that kind of hurt? The look of the wife's face made me shiver. I wanted to quickly play her a song from the O album and let her cry it out. One good cry is what she needed, this I knew.

What is anyone to do when the one he or she is loving turns that love off like a faucet? No lingering drips to offer some since of hope of maybe they'll come back. Damien knows the answer to questions like these. He screams the remedy with pain on track after track, but who can hear when heartache thumps in their ears so loud like water?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Here's Something

Hey, never tell a crazy person they're crazy--they won't agree with you.

Short, But Meaningful

In 2007, I decided to send Toure', the author of "Never Drank The Kool-Aid and "Soul City", an email of the craft analysis I wrote for (my Darling) Diana's F&T class. Recently, I was going through some old emails and found what Toure' wrote back to me. Even though his response only consists of a few shabby sentences I think it's cool he actually wrote back.

Nov. 3rd
What I wrote:


A couple of semesters ago I read your collection of essays, "Never Drank The Kool-Aid" for a Form & Technique class in prose. The book was "dope" as the cool kids say. The essay about you fearing for yr life with Suge Knight was hilarious.

Anyway, I wanted to show you my craft analysis for the book with an emphasis on the essay "What's Inside Us Brotha." I love this one. I think it's important for you to see what an actual student thought of your work, yo. Enjoy--I hope.

A. K. Cole
Form & Technique
Diana Joseph 102606

Toure' – "What’s Inside Us, Brotha?" In his collection of essays, Never Drank the Kool-Aid, Toure—our modern day griot of Hip-Hop, our oral historian of an infectious culture that literally set both east and west coasts on fire in the early 80’s, when some dope rhymes over fly beats not only rocked the house, but banks accounts alike. The beginning years of this culture has always been a bit shady for me because I was an 80s baby, so at age five I didn’t know what Run-DMC meant when they said “It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time—It's's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky),” but I knew I liked it, and when my cousins would bust cardboard boxes down in the funeral home parking lot, and break-dance to “Crush groovin-body-movin,” I didn’t know how to do those moves, but I felt some sort of delicious-attraction. At that tender age, I knew 80s Hiphop had that energy that kept my ear to the speaker, and my eyes glued to the breakers contorting limbs.

In this collection of profiles and reflective essays, Toure gives readers a huge slice of Hiphop pie by examining these famed artists to uncover their true-self beyond their public persona. In the introduction, he explains the importance of listening to subjects in order to get them to tell him things he wouldn’t have thought to ask. The one thing he didn’t ask his subjects directly was the one thing they told him indirectly, by expressing the hunger, need and conviction of their life-stories—their “What’s Inside You(s), Brotha?” Toure struggled with this question and fought with himself to answer it. As a reader, this question speaks volumes because it challenges everything I thought I knew about myself.

In this essay, Toure lays himself on the chopping block for a decapitation of his three heads—you, I (me), and he. His reaction to this question, and the way he structured this essay to answer it is unique to him, but the stories of Biggie, Pac, 50, DMX, and even Caushun revealed their story, which is largely responsible for the art they create, created. The boxing metaphor in this essay reinforces Toure’s choice to write with shifting point of views. Here he’s fighting with the punching bag, Jack, past experiences that include a physical fight and mental regrets, and himself. The rotating P.O.V.’s, as a literary technique, allows Toure to see himself from the outside and inside, simultaneously during the fight. On a more global level, this question allows readers (if they really are reading) to examine themselves to find the source of what is driving them; what is making their yearning for public recognition, or familial recognition like fire in their loins. Like Toure, I hesitated to ask myself this question because I was afraid of what the answer would be, and I should have been—we all should be scared when seriously dissecting ourselves for the truth. This question is bigger than the obvious, I am Black, I am White, Woman, or Male—it’s about where you come from that made, and is constantly making you who you are.

You ache with the need to convince yourself
that you do exist in the real world
that you’re a part of all the sound and anguish,
and you strike out with your fists,
you curse and you swear
to make them recognize you.
-from Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison"

Nov. 23rd
What Toure' wrote back to me:
Thank you for sending that and for carefully reading my book! That was so nice.