Author Archives: QueenD113

6 Ways That the Black Panther Movie Already Has People Trained

So Black Panther is a cultural phenomenon that is breaking records, capturing attention and creating a sense of pride all across the nation  It’s also causing people to change behavior or to tighten up their behavior, all in positive ways.  This is a strictly observational, unscientific poll conducted by moi, but I’ll bet if you peeped what I’ve been peeping, you’ll feel the same way.  Black Panther is causing people to: plan ahead, expect multiple viewings, dress accordingly, arrive on time, not talk during the movie, and not share spoilers.  Check the details:

  1. Plan Ahead: Pre-sale tickets broke all types of box office records; people have been anticipating this movie for days, weeks, months and years.  So yes, they already planned time off work, make arrangements with baybsitters and adults sitters and pet sitters – whatever it takes to make sure faces are in the place during opening weekend. Also, there is a commitment to see the show more than once, which can get pricey. But I know folks ate rice and beans, bought the basic necessities, gave up a few luxuries (Starbucks, lunch, dinner, drinks, shopping) – however you spend your disposable income, I  am sure it was curtailed so that you could get multiple tickets.

2) Multiple Viewings:  I mean this should go without saying, but Imma say it – you will want to see Black Panther at least twice.  AT. LEAST.  The storyline, the dialogue, the acting, the COSTUMES, the cinematography, the set design, the direction, the production value, the action scenes – you need at least two viewings to take it all in.  I mean, you don’t have to go five or six times like I plan to do, but you HAVE to go, and go more than once.  I think people expect that this is how they’re going to spend their weekend and or next few weeks – going to see Black Panther.  Trust me, this is what you want to do for February.

3) Dress Accordingly: The African themed ahn-sahm-blays (ensebles) that I have seen so far have been giving me So.MUCH.LIFE.  Dashikis, and kente, and anakara, and geles and other headwraps and makeup and colors and ladies and gentlemen – everyone has come through with the African HAUTENESS and it has been a visual feast for the eyes.  All the YASSSSS that can be mustered, just prepare yourself to say it every time you go to see the movie.  And you will want to see this more than once.  With different attire, cause that’s how we roll when we plan ahead.

4) Arrive on Time: We already know what happens with blockbuster movies, especially during opening weekend.  If you don’t have reserved seats then you choose your seats based on first come first serve.  Opening weekends of blockbusters pretty much mean that the theaters will be packed, so if you’re towards the back of the line to get in, then you’re sitting towards the front of the theater.  You know the seats, the ones so close to the screen that you have neck cramps just trying to look up.  So imagine a blockbuster on steroids, cause that’s the level of Black Panther’s opening weekend.  Every body is going to see it.  Which means if you arrive late, you know what, just don’t arrive late.  That’s it.  Get there ahead of time, take some pics of your crew in your attire, get your snacks and then get your seats.  Or you could be like one lady who walked in at 10:35 and the movie showtime was 10:15. So you’re already 20 minutes late, and I guess it didn’t matter to her because she correctly assumed there would be previews.  But did she anticipate that she’s going to the THE biggest movie release in months, and possibly the most anticipated movie for black people, ever?  I guess not, cause she walked in late, with 5 other people.  Listen, you already know where the seats were…in the front row.  But yes, sis still had the nerve to say “Let’s see where we’ll sit”.  Chica!!  Ma’am! Miss Girl! You’re going to be sitting in that front row, where the seats are waiting for you and your crew; don’t even waste time looking around.  I watched her scan the crowd for about five seconds, then the party of six slowly sunk to their awaiting seats…in the front row.  Neck cramps in full effect.  Get to the movie on time, people, get there on time.

5) No talking during the movie: I cannot recall the last time I attended a movie and no one talked.  I mean, you could hear other people breathing, that’s how quiet it was.  No one was on their cell phone, no one’s cell phone rang accidentally, no one shouted back at the screen, no one cracked jokes; when we laughed in all the right places, we did it quickly so we didn’t miss the next line or scene.  Everyone was transfixed.  Again, I’ve seen Black Panther twice so far, and this was the case both times.  There was one time, towards the end, when an audience member made a comment; it was funny and appropriate and the entire theater laughed.  We all laughed because we all heard the joke; I’m telling you everyone was staying quiet and soaking it all in during this epic event.

6) No spoilers: So far no one on social media has given anything away.  I’m not looking for it, so maybe it’s there but the people on my timeline on “the Twitters” and the “Book of Faces” have posted pics of the attire and the joy and excitement of being there.  No one has reviewed or rehashed the movie, no one has quoted lines from the movie beyond what was already in trailers, no one has given away plot points, and no one has shared details that you can only see…at the movies.  So YAY good people, way to keep it classy and contained.  Now, it’s only Friday; I can’t promise that this will still be the case on Tuesday or even Monday.  People have a lot to say about this cinematic marvel (see what I did there); and they’re not going to wait a week because some of you have dragged your feet.  So get up, get out, and go see Black Panther!

 

#WakandaForever

#BlackPanther

#KingsandQueens

My POTUS & FLOTUS make Black History, again, during Black Panther Month

So for this year, I’ve renamed Black History Month to Black Panther Month.  If you don’t know why, shame on you.  In the meantime though, Black History to continues to happen all around us and we should continue to applaud all of the #peakblackexcellence every time it happens.

For example, the only POTUS and Forever FLOTUS I acknowledge in these 20-teens are once again giving us reasons to stand tall, applaud, and cry happy tears of joy.

Per CNN.com “The former first couple’s official portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, a rite of passage for most former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum.”  The difference is that this is the first Black President (because there will be others, as well as women Presidents and other People of Color) to grace the Smithsonian, and the first Black First Lady of the Unites States to do the same.  As reported in several publications, the power couple interviewed and vetted the artists who were commissioned, with former President and First Lady Obama choosing Keyhinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, for the final portraits.  And the results still have people talking, four days later.

Keyhinde Wiley, known for utilizing floral patterns in his work, used flowers of significance for Mr. Obama: the African blue lilies represent Kenya, Barack’s father’s birthplace; jasmine stands for Hawaii, where he was born; and the chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, reference the city where his political career began, and where he met Michelle – according to the NY Times.  President Obama looks…presidential: wise and strong and competent and capable and charismatic – all the traits we knew and loved while he was in office.

 

Obama Portraits

Amy Sherald created the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama and it appears to have the most debate.  While Ms. Sherald’s work is known for using greyscale to depict Black subjects, people have commented that this particular piece is too “grey”, not dark enough, not enough color, the blue background is too light, too flat, and the depiction of Aunty Shelly is not Shelly enough.  Oh my, it’s a portrait, meaning it’s the artists’ rendition, who said it had to be exact?  You can tell it’s Michelle Obama, her pose is regal and strong and polished and purposeful – again, traits that we came to know and appreciate about FLOTUS while she graced us with her presence in the White House.  And I love the dress, I wanna know where I can find a copy…after I get these arms in shape.

Image result for Barack and michelle obama portraits

 

So what’s all the rah-rah about Ms. Sherald’s rendition? Did she create a Picasso-when-he-was-crazy version?  It is what it is, and Mrs. O know what she was signing up for when she signed her up.  On the flip side, I don’t agree with the comments that people need to study the artists or go experience art before they comment.  That defeats the purpose of viewing art.  Art is everywhere and is subject to interpretation base on your personal views.  So this may not be an exact likeness in the exact colors that many were expecting, but I don’t agree that you need to study other portraits to have an opinion about this one.  Everyone should take a few deep breaths and keep it moving.  You know POTUS and FLOTUS did.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Artist Kehinde Wiley, and Amy Sherald attend their official portrait unveiling of former U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The portraits were commissioned by the Gallery, for Kehinde Wiley to create President Obama's portrait, and Amy Sherald that of Michelle Obama.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

How awesome is it though that two Black artists were asked to create indelible permanent portraits of two of the most important figures in our immediate history, the first Black President and First Lady of these United States?  Really, how amazing and special and excellent is all this blackness that just happened?  During Black History Black Panther Black Panther History Month?  C’mon now.  Let’s celebrate this peak blackness that just happened, during the reign of he-who-shall-not-be-named.  And couldn’t didn’t find time to make an appearance in support of – which is probably for the best; you just know he would have found a way to make it about him.  It would have just messed up a historic moment, and now that I’ve typed two sentences too many about B-I-C, let’s bring it back to the reason for this post.  The best POTUS and FLOTUS in my lifetime hired two Black artists to render their portraits for the Smithsonian and the results speak for themselves.

Image result for Barack and michelle obama portraits

 

Get into it!  Your thoughts?

Wakanda Forever – What Black Panther Means to Me

I STAN for Black Panther!  I was only supposed to see the movie twice but what ha’ happened was:

  1. I got my advance ticket for premiere night, Thursday Feb. 15.  It’s going to be a late night date night w/ hubby to celebrate Valentine’s Day (cause who wants to deal with crowds and overpriced everything on Feb 14), plus it’s a great way to bring our royal best as we see royalty on the screen.  Oh yeah, you know I have all my outfits ready!

 Me and the crew will be like this image from the Twitterverse: https://twitter.com/ronkelawal/status/873498246617993216/photo/1

2) My sorority – the BEST sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is hosting Red Carpet events across the country, our chapter is going on Saturday Feb. 17.  I had about 10 people who wanted to go and I tried to get group tickets but Sorors are quick and I barely got my one ticket.

3) So then our group  decided to go on Sunday Feb 18; we’re going to Studio Movie Grill so it’s another date night for those who are going with their boos/baes/significant others.

4) My oldest son can’t join us cause he will be out of town on a college tour (also with my Sorority, special shoutout to the ladies of Stone Mountain-Lithonia Alumnae Chapter and chaperones who will be with our children touring HBCU’s this weekend).  Anyway, I promised to take him to see the movie when he gets back.

5) After all of that, Fox Theatre sent out a request for ushers for the special private Atlanta screening on Feb 7, and I was NOT going to miss that.  So that’s how I am going to see Black Panther 5 (yes five) times in 10 days.  Ya think I mind?  See my first sentence – I STAN for Black Panther!

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My brother got me interested in comic books years ago and I easily identified my favorites – Storm from the X-Men and Black Panther.  Besides Storm’s long white hair, she was like me – brown skinned, of African descent, navigating her way with her powers and her new group of people.  Ok, so maybe just the brown skinned part applied to me, but that was more than enough.  Black Panther was a mythical warrior king whose county was totally amazing, and a symbol of what we were and could be again – independent, spiritual, familial, brilliant, strong, advanced, and united.  I wanted to visit Wakanda.  Heck, I want to visit it now.   So yes, as a comic book fan who has been faithfully attending the Marvel movies (Iron Man, Avengers, Thor, etc.), I was ecstatic to hear that T’Challa would make an appearance in Avengers Civil War, in advance of starring in his own movie.  The buildup has been exhilarating – I mean, have you SEEEN those previews??  This movie speaks to me, the little girl who was told often about her hair, her nose, and her skin color; and the woman who still hears the comments – but now I have the tools and the sass to answer back smartly; it speaks to my children who see that young Black men are and can be an infinite number of things that have nothing to do with the traditional stereotypes assigned to Black Men – it is the movie we need to experience regularly to know that we were, are, and will be #KingsandQueens.

On Wednesday Feb. 7, I was lucky enough to snag a spot as an usher at the Fox Theatre for the Atlanta premiere of the movie.  This was for ATLiens who worked on the movie in some capacity – actor, stuntperson, crew, publicity – you name it, if they worked on it then they and their family members were invited.  So ushers have usher uniforms but you know I asked if we could wear African-themed attire (“or if we have to stick with the uniforms, what about a headwrap or scarf?”), to which I was told “That’s a lovely idea, but we have to stick with the uniforms”.  But ya girl was determined to rep Wakanda somehow, someway.  I wore earrings and a necklace that looks like it could be from the Motherland (I think); and my jacket as a I walked into the theater was definitely African themed.  Luckily, I was able to snag a couple of pics before we had to lock our phones away.

It’s too bad that they wouldn’t allow us to take pictures – which I am sure was an attempt to block bootleggers.  Lemme tell you, the FASHIONS I saw that night; whoo, I got my entire African ancestral life!  The ladies AND the gentlemen came in their colors and patterns and swag, swag, swag.  The tops, and shirts, and pants and skirts, and dresses, and hats, and headwraps, and kufis, and geles, and coats, and canes – maaan, I tell you, it was a feast for my eyes. kind of like the World Premier pictures:

Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, arrives at the premiere.
 Lupita Nyong’o stole the show at the “Black Panther” premiere.
Danai Gurira hit the carpet in style.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ actress Tessa Thompson shares a moment with ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler on the purple carpet.

 

 

Image result for black panther premiere outfitsImage result for black panther premiere outfitsImage result for black panther red carpet premiereImage result for black panther premiere outfits

I was almost good with just the visuals of the people arriving for the event.  Almost…

You know the movie was the main attraction.  But first we had to hear from the big whigs associated with the movie- from those who helped to bring parts of the filming to GA, to a couple of Marvel executives, and juuust when we started to fidget (I mean, turn on the projector already amirite?)… Samuel Jackson came out and talked about his connection with Atlanta and his first foray into acting.  And he said that Black Panther, at the time, had a 100% score on Rotten Apples.  Mr. Jackson might have had little sleep or too much sippy sippy, cause even my parents know about Rotten Tomatoes.  And at long last, the movie.

What can I say?   It was amazing, and exciting, and action packed, and funny, and breathtaking.  The costumes and hair were to-die-for, I mean if nothing else this movie needs to win the Oscar for costumers alone.  The vibrant colors, and pieces, and symbolism as it related to each tribe; I could watch the movie two more times and still find more to say just about the costumes. The story line stuck closely to the origin of Black Panther, but under the pen of Ryan Coogler the characters were fleshed out more fully than other superhero movies.  You got a deep sense of the history, familial relationships, moral obligations, and conflict over sharing technology and making global contributions while keeping the insularity of the country.

The men in the movie are principled, conflicted, complex, fierce, protective warriors.   T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman is a king who cares deeply for his people, yet he is the moral center who recognizes that the country must adapt somewhat and change with the times.  Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, is driven by his strong sense of “fairness” and vengeance; he is the best superhero/comic book villain since Heath Ledger’s rendition of the Joker.  Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke and Sterling K. Brown round out the cast of Black Men who did the most with their roles.

I can’t say enough about the women in this movie!  Angela Bassett, Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurriri, and Leitita Wright are well cast, playing roles that are strong, fierce, feminine, brilliant, funny, complex, loving and supportive – as sisterhood that is rarely seen in cinema with our women of color.  They all had natural hairstyles throughout the moves and I LOVED it, especially the Wakanda Knots, which I want to become the next hair trend.  The characters of Ramonda, Nakia, Okoye and Shuri are relatable and recognizable; we have all been each of them at some point.  I want my superhero name to be Shurakiakoye.  I think Shuri is my favorite, and not just because Leitita Wright is from my parental country of Guyana.  She lights up the screen in every scene and I hope all of these women have their own spinoff set of movies (multiple, plural) very soon.

And to have these stars grace so many magazine covers at once?  Slow Clap, people, slow clap:

  <p>Black Panther Cover (Clone) - Chadwick, Daniel, Forest, Michael</p>
                Black Panther Cover (Clone) - Danai, Lupita, Angela, LetitiaLupita Nyong’o covers Allure’s March issue 309014

Yes, I know this is a movie.  Yes, I know the character was created by two white men.  Yes, I know that Marvel and Disney are owned and run by white people.  Yet, I will support the juggernaut that is Black Panther because of the script that was written by a Black Man, the cast that is mostly Black, the costumes, hair and makeup that were created, managed and implemented by Black Women, and the movie itself which was directed by a Black Man.  Extra props to Ryan Coogler, who is the Black Man of which I speak who co-wrote the script and directed the movie.  He continues to shine with his directorial choices, from Fruitvale Station to Creed and now Black Panther.  He and Taika Waititi (director of Thor: Ragnarok), show that Marvel can entrust the franchise to diverse hands, in front of and behind the camera.  I know we still have a long way to go; I know that we need more Black producers and Executive Producers and Distributors, and Studio Movie Heads, and of the roles and positions that will greenlight movies from script to screen.  I also noted a few seconds in the movie where I gave it a major side eye as it felt as if, once again, we needed the help of a white savior to make it through – but it was very brief and, in the grand scheme of things, inconsequential.  But it does speak to the larger point of Wakanda, we can create, implement, greenlight, cast, direct and star in movies that are empowering and powerful and thought provoking, all on our own.  Black Panther is one giant step in that direction.  Next up, I am looking forward to seeing one of my childhood favorite books come to life in the theater, A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava Duvernay.  It comes out March 9 and I am ready!  But in the meantime… Black Panther…Step into the Spotlight!

 

#BlackPanther

#KingsandQueens

#WakandaForever

#StepintotheSpotlight

I Care About Black Every Day

I wrote and posted two statuses to Facebook earlier, and then mused, “these are my thoughts, I should blog about it”.

Here is the first post:

And another day, another hashtag

#terencecrutcher

 

And the second post:

Taking a break by scrolling FB…and there is no break. Diatribes, think pieces and thought pieces about the ‘latest hashtag’ Mr. Terence Crutcher who was more than a hashtag – all, ALL valid commentary from the OP’s.

And then there is news mixed in about brangelina. Listen, I don’t give one good hot diggity about their love life. I’ve been entertained by some of their work, and appreciate the humanitarian efforts I’ve seen from them, but their love life ain’t changing mine so…
No, not really caring about their news today.

What I do care about is praying and hoping that my Black husband and Black sons and Black fathers and Black brothers and Black nephews and Black nieces and Black sisters and Black mothers and Black uncles and Black aunts and Black cousins and Black friends make it home safely today. And every day.

I care about Black today. And every day. Oh yeah, and I agree with these two pics below.

#carryon
#saytheirnames
#icareaboutblackeveryday

I copied all pics from other posts that I saw; I don’t know who to credit because it wasn’t listed anywhere.  However, the point is that the pictures reflect my thoughts perfectly.  It’s ok to bash Colin Kapernick, QB for the San Francisco 49ers because he refuses to stand for the National Anthem during the football games.  Calling him unpatriotic and directing vitriolic commentary towards him and others like him is just fine.  Because this is America, where we can say what we want, as long as what we want is the freedom to bash others who don’t agree with us, right?  And America is the land of the free, as long as we’re the right type: white, straight, male, Christian, employed, educated, married with children…have I missed any?
I am beyond frustrated.  We have yet another clear homicide by a police officer.  Yes, I believe that our service people do a tremendous job: teachers/educators, policemen, firemen, paramedics, first responders, and the like; they are often overworked, underpaid and there are many heroes amongst this group.  Yet there is a definite issue that we cannot ignore.  Police officers need additional training.  Academies need additional programs.  Organizations need more funding.  None of that matters if our mindset remains the same.
People of color matter.  Immigrants matter.  Homeless, uneducated, LGBTIQ, single, disabled – we’re all here, and we all matter.  You cannot, should not, better not in my presence, say that tired trope of “All Lives Matter” without acknowledging that indeed ALL LIVES MATTER; Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter, Homeless Lives Matter, LGBTIQ Lives Matter, Single Lives Matter, Disables Lives Matter, Uneducated Lives Matter, Ethnic Lives Matter, Nationalities Matter, Race Matters, Gender Matters, Age Matters…People Matter.
When you ignore and are willfully ignorant about people who don’t look like, talk like, think like or act like you, then you are part of the problem.  Period.

FB Group is Motivating Me to Move It

I did NOT want to move today.  I did 40 minutes of exercise on Sunday.  I really wasn’t feeling it yesterday and then time got away from me, so I was ok with skipping it.  I was soooo not motivated today.  Until I checked a Facebook group filled with women on the same health journey.  The same “get fit”, “get healthy”, “lose weight” journey.  These women are constantly posting pictures, tips, stories and even questions about their journeys, goals, challenges and successes.  That page has become one of the first things I read in the morning, and I only joined the group two weeks ago.

So when I scrolled through the group’s page today, knowing that I missed a day of exercise yesterday, and that my Sunday workout wasn’t a full hour, I was motivated by the posts.  I knew I couldn’t miss two days in a row…not when women are sharing their struggles with being consistent (like me), their days, weeks and months at a plateau (been there) yet they’re still working out; there was too much encouragement from afar for me to be a slacker.

I prayed, and God got in my head.  He whispered, “You are worth more than excuses”.  I drove my fluffy self to the park and talked to myself through every step of those 3.6 miles.  I had a slight headache, toe ache, and general ‘don’t wanna do it ache’, but I pressed my way.  My self talk included my affirmation, “I am worth more than excuses”.

Getting in shape and staying in shape is hard.  There are no two ways around it.  You’ve got to put in the work.  You’ve got to make the time.  You’ve got to make the right choices.  Long lasting results don’t include a magic bullet.  I have decided to document my transformation on Instagram, @dhealthjourney, and to get an accountability partner, and to surround myself with positive, supportive people.  The Facebook group is one step in the right direction.  Today, they pushed me without even knowing it.

As I was walking and talking, I tried to back out of going the full distance.  The route I take is .6 miles each way.  Last week, I walked it three times, for a total distance of 3.6 miles.  Today, I was trying to talk myself out of it.  “Just do the one mile, that’s good enough”, and “You can get back on track tomorrow”…thoughts like that kept creeping into my head.

At the same time, I remembered the stories on the FB group – people who lost 50, 60, 70, 80 pounds.  Ladies who are just starting.  Ladies who are midway through their own personal plans.  I don’t know 99.9% of those women.  Yet I didn’t feel comfortable doing just enough, knowing I would be seeing their posts later.  So I pushed myself a little more, and soon I was almost done with two rounds.  I figured I might as well complete the last lap, so to speak, because in just a few weeks I’ll be doing a 5K for breast cancer awareness.  That reminder is what spurred me to finish the complete 3.6 mile distance.

I posted a quick summary to the group on FB, and those who saw it were cheering me on.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be with true support groups.  I am thankful for this one.  Dhealthjourney continues.

9/11 Made Me Become a Parent

I am a New Yorker, born and raised.  I have lived in the South longer than I’ve lived in New York, but when people ask me where I’m from, I still say that “I’m from New York”. Who doesn’t love the hustle and bustle of the city, the busyness, the fact that there is always something to do at any time of the day or night? If it’s you, then phooey!  I like the sights and sounds, most of the time.  There is no pizza or Chinese food quite like what you can find in the NYC area.  Even with the crimes I’ve witnessed and heard about, the city still holds a bit of magic for me.

It’s through this lens that I experienced what we now know as “9/11”.  It was a Tuesday.  I was in my office, just starting to dig into the issues of the day, when one of the sales people walked in and asked if I had a radio.  I did and turned it on, as my office phone started to ring.  The station was playing a commercial so I asked the sales guy what he was listening for on the radio.  He said he heard something on the way into the office about the Twin Towers in New York.  I tried to change stations but all I got was static.  He left and went to my managers office, probably still searching for verification of the news.

When I checked my phone message, my mother had called with this snippet, “Just wanted you to know that a plane has crashed into one of the Twin Towers”.  My mouth dropped open.  Sales guy was right.  I flipped back to the news channel, the only station I could pick up on the radio.  The reports were coming in – hundreds watched live as a plane aimed for and crashed into one of the two buildings at the World Trade Center (aka the Twin Towers).  As the guy was reporting about it, I could hear the commotion as they exclaimed about another plane crashing into the other building.  I stepped outside my office and the entire place was abuzz.  My teams were talking about it, the department was talking about it – every single person in the office was sharing news as they got it.  We all wondered what it meant.  I know I called a couple of family members in New York, only to get a busy signal on the phone.  I didn’t have anyone’s cell phone numbers; I don’t even remember if I had a cell phone at the time for myself,  I recall walking into my director’s office about 30 minutes later, since he had a small TV in his space.  As I walked in, we watched together as both towers fell to the ground.

This was such a surreal scene.  A wave of emotion washed over me.  I was just there about 3 years prior, standing on top of one of those towers like I was on top of the world.  Now I was watching a part of my world crumble before my eyes.  Some of those same workers that we’d encountered in 1998 had to still be there.  The people in the lobby and at the ticket desk, the guy and lady at the pizza place; I couldn’t believe that thousands of people lost their lives in such a brutal manner.  More reports came in about the airplane attack in DC at the Pentagon, and the plane that was purportedly headed for DC but diverted somewhere in Shanksville, PA.   My husband has family in DC, were they ok.  What about my NY family, why couldn’t I get through to them? What madness was this?  Was the US under attack?  What was going on?

When I got home, I spent the rest of the night listening to and watching any and every news report I could – breaking my own rule about watching TV (same news all the time; somebody lied, somebody died, somebody cried).  I couldn’t help it, there was a magnetic force that kept me glued to the set.  At work the next day, the mood was of course somber.  I’d finally heard from my family members and they were all accounted for.  A cousin recounted how she had just gotten off the train and saw black smoke headed her way with people running, so she ran too.  It was the debris from the collapsing towers.  My godmother, who is Muslim, talked about her daughter-in-law dodging a bullet (figuratively) because she worked at the World Trade Center and was supposed to be at work.  She was scheduled to go in late that Tuesday morning, after her doctor’s appointment to check on her unborn baby. We discovered that my husband’s aunt, who did work at the Pentagon, had actually retired just 4 months prior and wasn’t onsite, but several of her friends were.  So the work atmosphere was not only somber but filled with stories that we saw or heard about.  Our department gathered for a moment of silence and I was asked to pray.  All I can remember saying is that for the people who lost their lives, if they even said “I believe” in their last moments then they were with God, for “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”.  I don’t remember what else I said.  I know I cried.  Again.

That night, Wednesday, was midweek worship at our church.  Some call it bible study, our church at the time called it Wonderful Wednesday Worship.  We attended, for surely we would hear some words that would help us to make sense of this mess.  To hear reports on the news that terrorist groups were claiming victory over this attack, that they might try again, that they were proud of their accomplishments – it was too much to bear.  Surely God, or his representative in the form of our pastor, had some semblance of answer which could return us to normalcy?

Sadly that was not exactly the case.  From what I recall, he made it seem as if the attacks were because of the country’s own two-face dealings with leaders and dignitaries around the world.  Whether there is truth in that statement or not, saying it 24 hours after our world was shaken to its core was probably not the best tactic.  We left feeling more lost than when we entered the sanctuary.

The Big Decision

As the days wore on, we talked about life and death and the meaning of both and our place in this world.  During the first couple of years of marriage, I had been insistent that I wanted to finally finish my degree before we started a family.  That didn’t happen, which is another post for another day.  We weren’t ready either, not during those first 1-3 years.  As we got to years 3 and 4, I remember asking hubby if he thought we were ready and he said no each time.  This was fine with me, because I was still holding onto the dream of completing that degree.  When the attacks of Sept 11, 2001 happened, things shifted…for both of us.

We realized that there is never a right time or right place to have a family, only right intentions.  We always knew we would have a family.  We both had decent jobs with opportunities for advancement.  Patrick had a degree.  We had purchased our home just a couple of years before that dreadful day.  We had updated vehicles.  What, exactly, were we waiting for?  Towards the end of September, early October, we talked about whether it was time.  We each took about a month to give it some serious thought.

A child would change things for us.  No more spontaneous outings.  No more extra dollars to frivolously spend.  No more super late night doing nothing, or a whole lot of something (wink wink).  Now we’re thinking about the pitter patter of little feet and what that really means.  A little person, who will someday become a big person. The scariness, concern, and worry of “doing it right” – raising a baby to young adulthood.  Schools, and friends, hobbies and activities – we’re going to mess him/her up.  No wait, this place is already messed up in so many ways.  And we see that and we know that we’re trying to do our part.  We’re continuously changing and evolving.  We’re not as selfish as we once were, maybe we can raise someone who really cares about somebody other that himself and his immediate needs.  We can shape someone who is certain about her purpose and walks in it fully.  Let’s really thing about this thing.  The privilege, honor, and opportunity to raise someone who would contribute to society and not take away from it.

The decision to become parents would have probably happened within the next year or so of our marriage.  The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 jolted us into action.  We have never looked back.

I Miss My BFF – RIH & RIP Debbie

Nine years ago today, I was helping my sisterfriend celebrate her entre into the 40 club.  Debbie and I were friends in high school.  We lost touch during the college and first job years.  When she got married and they moved to GA, she realized that she knew someone in the ATL and we reconnected.  We became even closer friends than when we were in high school; she was an only child and I have no sisters, so we became like sisters.

If you met Debbie, you were drawn to her personality.  She was loud, she was lovable, she was always smiling and always found the funny.  And if you ever heard her laugh, you would remember her always.  If  there was a cultural event, we attended.  We talked on the phone for no reason.  We talked on the phone for every reason.  When she visited she often said, “You know, you’re the only friend who always offers something to eat or drink when I come over”.  She was too sick to be a bridesmaid in my wedding, but I kept her name on the program anyway.  I couldn’t think of a better person to be a godmother to the boys, so I asked her first.  Debbie was the first person I know who actively spoke about adopting children.  Sadly, that was not to be in her future.

She and her husband divorced and her illness took its toll on her body.  She left her profession as a physical therapist and reinvented herself.  Her skills and talent in music propelled her to become a music teacher.  She went back to school to work on a doctorate in music education.  I sometimes got tired listening to her talk about her day becuase it was often full of activity.  Debbie strove for and achieved so much: published author, music teacher, PhD candidate, consulting at her church, etc.  She was BUSY!  And in her busyness she always made time to check in, to catch up, to see what the boys were up to, to be a supporter and to encourage.

When her 40th approached, she didn’t want to do anything.  I wouldn’t hear of it.  Of COURSE she needed to celebrate.  It’s the BIG 4-0, it only happens once. Her beloved grandmother has passed away several years before, and her father had just passed about three years prior to her milestone birthday.  Her favorite aunt had just died in May and although she was more concerned about her Mom’s grief, I knew she felt the loss as well.  I thought this would a good way to reminisce, laugh, get out and have a good time.  She agreed and told a few of her other friends.  Her mother was not able to make the trip for her birthday but she asked me to buy Debbie a bouquet of flowers.  We decided to go to the hibachi grill.  Hibachi is where they cook the food right in front of you.  If you’re familiar with Benihana, then you know hibachi.  The chefs made a big show of the presentation and really showered Debbie with extra attention.  She had a blast and said to me afterwards, “I’m glad you made this a big deal.  Sometimes I have to remember that I am worth the celebrations too”.

Three months later, I saw her on her last night on Earth.  It was Christmastime, and we got tickets to see Scrooge at the Alliance Theatre.  Her mom was visiting, my mom was attending and we had a group of six including the boys. We agreed to meet there for the performance, then go to dinner together afterwards.  I remember that I saw a co-worker there, and our company CEO – his daughter was in the production.  I introduced them to the family during the intermission.

My mother noticed it first.  She picked up that Debbie wasn’t feeling well, and asked her during intermission.  Debbie responded that she wasn’t feeling that great but would make it through dinner.  Mom promptly cancelled dinner and told her to go home after the production and put her feet up to rest.  We followed each other to our cars afterwards to exchange gifts and hugged goodbye.  Little did I know that was the absolute last hug, kiss, laugh and sound that I would ever hear from my friend, my girl who I loved like a sister.

The boys were asleep and Patrick and I were watching TV in our room.  I remember “The Jeffersons” was on the screen.  We got a call around 10ish from Mrs. Williams, Debbie’s mom.  She said they were at the hospital, that Debbie had some type of episode (I don’t recall exactly how she explained it), and she had to call the ambulance.  Now she was calling from the waiting room at the hospital;she would call back as soon as she heard anything.  I knew immediately but held out hope that I was wrong.  I relayed the news, called my mother, and numbly watched more antics from George and Weezy.  Just after midnight, the phone range again.  I couldn’t answer it.  Patrick picked up the receiver and walked into the hallway.  I heard him give the greeting, pause, then say in a dejected voice, “Oh no” and I slumped over on the bed, tears already flowing.  My bestie was no longer here.

It’s been almost 9 years, and recounting the main highlights has taken me two hours because of the tears.  Debbie’s passing left a void in my life and a hole in my heart that has never been filled.  After as long while, I did connect with another who I consider to be another BFF, who is also like a sister to me.  She has her own wonderful, beautiful personality and I thank God for her all the time.  Yet, each person and each relationship is unique and there is no one like Debbie.  I miss her.  She was a light where ever she went to whomever she encountered.  May she continue to rest in love, peace, and power.  And as Debbie would say, “That’s the story, Mrs. Glory”.

Presidential Gaffe? Gary Johnson and Aleppo

Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate for President, has been in the news all day. He was on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” and panelist Mike Barnicle asked him, “”What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?” “And what is Aleppo?” asked Johnson. “You’re kidding,” replied Barnicle. Johnson replied, “No, I’m not”, and you could see his eyes shift to the left as if he realized he made a big boo-boo.

Now, I’ve got to confess that I didn’t know what Aleppo was either, until today. I make it a point NOT to watch the news every single day. My mantra is that it’s the same news every day, somebody lied, somebody died, somebody cried – my soul can’t take the negativity. So I make a choice not to watch most of the time. I do read lots of papers, magazines, and articles online and listen to various radio stations. So I keep up with the majority of what’s happening regularly; I just miss the nuances of things like this situation. I know about the refugee crisis and war and destruction in Syria, I just didn’t really pay attention to the name of the main city of conflict.  I don’t think I’m in the minority; I’m guessing a lot of men and women “on the street” would not know what Aleppo is either.

Back to Gary Johnson and his flameout interview. Per the clips I’ve watched and the transcription from The Hollywood Reporter:
“Aleppo is in Syria,” explained Barnicle slowly. “it’s the epicenter of the refugee crisis.”

“Okay, got it. Well, with regard to Syria, I do think that it’s a mess,” Johnson said. “I think the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end but when we’ve aligned ourselves with – when we have supported the opposition, the Free Syrian Army, the Free Syrian Army is also coupled with the Islamists, and then the fact that we’re also supporting the Kurds and this is, it’s just a mess. And that this is the result of regime change that we end up supporting and, inevitably, these regime changes have led to a less safe world.”

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough was incredulous that Johnson didn’t know what Aleppo was.”Do you really think that foreign policy is so insignificant that somebody running for president of the United States shouldn’t even know what Aleppo is, where Aleppo is, why Aleppo is so important?”

And therein lies the question. How bad is this gaffe for Gary Johnson? He did apologize later, saying that he was “incredibly frustrated” and that he “has to get smarter and this is part of the process”. If nothing else, I appreciate his candor. HOWEVER, you are a presidential candidate. You are saying that you are qualified to make decisions on behalf of the country that is deemed and seen as the most powerful. You are asking everyone to trust you with domestic and foreign policy decisions. And when asked about a hot button issue that is on the hearts and minds of most pundits, you fumble and stumble and just faceplant by not even knowing what you’re asked about. No bueno, dude, no bueno.

Hair I Am

Hair is on my mind today. Probably because I am in the middle of “wash day”. Those of you who are natural know what I mean.

I returned to natural hair just over 11 years ago and it has truly been a journey. I had NO idea how to take care of this hair and have tortured it for way too long. I remember going to the Dominican salon one time to get a blowout and to see how long my hair had gotten. I left with the true meaning of “fried, dyed and laid to the side”. It was just to my shoulder, silky and looked nice…for a short while. My hair had a burn smell and didn’t revert back for 6 weeks before I asked for help online. I was crushed to find out that I would have to cut off those ends. I resisted for several more weeks, then finally did the big chop – again.

I was sure my hair would grow back in about 2 years. It’s been six years now and my hair is barely past my ears. During that time, I’ve trimmed it constantly and cut it a few inches at least 4 times. So I know that I contributed to the lack of growth.

During those same six years, I had my hair braided 3-4 times back to back (where or where are my edges now?); I combed my hair every night for about 6 months straight; I twisted my hair every night for about 3 months straight; I tried to ‘wash-no-go” 10Z hair. Yes, 10Z; my hair is straight from the mother land. It’s thick and super kinky/curly/coily. For a long time, I didn’t like it because it didn’t behave the way I wanted. Until I realized, that I didn’t treat it the way it needed to be treated.

I’ve since watched YouTube videos and read blogs from ladies like me, with 4C hair who learned how to take care of their hair and willingly shared tips. Kinky, Curly, Coily Me!, Naturally Me 4C, and NappyFu all speak about treating your hair like silk, finding products that work, and being patient. I also like Jouelzy and the natural hair maven Naptural 85 – they don’t have the same grade of hair, but I learned how to create some cool hairstyles and DIY treatments from both. Slowly but surely, I have come to know my hair, it’s grade and porosity and density and most importantly, I know that I CAN take care of it and produce great results by myself.

So I am now at a place where I enjoy my coils. I pre-poo, even when I don’t want to, because it makes my hair moisturized and well conditioned. I have found 3-4 shampoos and conditioners I like and plan to stick with those – instead of the 50-11 products I was quick to run and buy every few weeks. I take the time to deep condition (as I’m doing right now), at least twice per month. I detangle, with my fingers. I moisturize using the LCO (liquid, cream, oil) since that works better for my hair than the LOC method (liquid, oil cream). I’m still working on not pulling out knots when I run across them on a regular basis – so it’s still a work in progress. And I am comfortable adding hair.

I learned to crochet braid late last year, and did it for about 8 months off and on. I’ll slap a wig on in a minute – cause it’s quick and easy and they look good on me (mostly). I have yet to get a weave, but never say never, right? Overall though, I am pleased that I am in a good place with my hair. It’s health, strong, thick and growing slowly but surely. I can’t ask for anything else – so I won’t!

Shifting…

Hola good people!

Yesterday I updated my profile and cover photos on Facebook. Now that I’m on it (late bloomer, joined in 2014), and actively participating (fairly regular posts since May 2016), I try to change my cover and profile pics often. Usually I update the cover photo to correspond with the new month, or a great picture from an event during the month, or an inspirational quote that moves me. For profile pics I tend to favor ones that are usually me or a cool animated pic like this one:

SassyLady

It’s colorful, and she looks like she is cool yet fiery, smooth yet sassy all at the same time – kinda like me.

Today I posted this profile pic.

Queen Shift

I think it speaks to my current situation. I am in transition in several areas of my life, so I consider this time as a work in progress. The etymology of my name is Divine Queen in Greek, so I’ve taken to using that nickname – see the QueenD113 moniker on this site.
Until I am able to share more, this is my motto: There is nothing impossible for a QUEEN on a mission to shift herself into a better position. Let the shifting begin. I am moving out of my comfort zone and stepping into some fresh new areas. It’s quietly exciting and slightly scary at the same time. Scary because it’s the unknown for me, and quietly exciting because it involves several dreams being realized. That’s all I want to share for now.

Oh, except this:

Godfidence

It’s my cover photo on Facebook, and a reminder of Timothy God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. With Him and confidence, I know I’ve got it. Soon you will know it too. Onward and upward!