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.