Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Greenlight! (MFA Update)

So, I asked 4 professors for recommendations a few weeks ago. 3 responded immediately (w/ a yes!). A couple of a weeks later I got a response from the fourth and she said

Huh? Say what now? As I read the email my heart started racing, anxiety started creeping, and my eyes started welling. I thought I was about to have a freaking panic attack.

Am I in the Twighlight Zone?

Yes, ya'll . . . she said no! Well, actually she said to ask someone else. But, hey, I know a "no" when I see a "no," lol.

I had to let this marinate for a few days.

I knew that it would be in my best interest not to respond to her immediately. I also knew that I had to respond. I went through a myriad of emotions- kind of like a break up. Outrage, denial, fear, hurt. Then, finally, acceptance. Her reasons for saying no were understandable- she has a criteria for recommending folks and, unfortunately, the last time I had her I fallen short. But, since I'd had her many times over the years and she knew me at my best and worst,

so even if you she couldn't rave about me as a student she could atleast mention my potential.


I sent her a reply as honest as her "no" because I had nothing to lose at this point. I admitted that I was not and probably will never be the best student. Told her what had been going on with my last year of undergrad, conceded that in the end I was just trying to graduate. But, I wanted her to understand that I love writing more than anything and that's why I'm pursuing the MFA. Thanked her and said I'd see her the next time I was around my alma mater.

A couple of hours later I had a "yes" w/ conditions.

She agreed to do a couple of my recs, but only those that didn't require a form. She didn't want to have to fudge any details about me as a student; just play up my strengths. Fine with me! lol.

So, all 4 were asked and all 4 said yes. This morning I sent out emails with basic info about myself and soon they will each reieve a package from me (Thanks to advice over at the MFA Blog, I decided to make this rec process as easy as posible for them by providing postage, envelopes, and forms).

Let the happy dancing commence, courtesy of John Legend's "Greenlight"

Oh, also, I was thinking about ways to thank them for helping me . . . what should I do? A thank you note doesn't seem personal enough. I saw mention on the MFA Blog about somebody sending their recommendors a copy of their favorite book. Well, I don't really have a fave book. I do, however, have a book that may have singlehandedly inspired me to write poetry in the first place. It's obscure and out of print. To amazon I go!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Love Loc'down!

I forgot to mention in my last post that October 11th was also my

2 month LOCaversary!

as usual, join me in my happy dance

Yes, ladies and lads . . . this will be my 3rd month in my journey to loc'dom. How exciting?! Here's a comparison shot of my progress since my 1st retwist on 8/17 and my 5th retwist on 10/15.

Isn't nappy hair amazing? I mean, seriously. Something is happening atop this head of mine that is special and powerful!

I decided to adopt the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy for my hair though. If people don't ask me if I'm loc'ing then I don't tell em- simple as that. I'm just not in the mood for any long conversations about it or any questions.

I've basically been natural all of my life (more about that on my fotki "About Me" page, check it out) but I was getting my hair pressed from age 6 until last March. Rocking a fro this summer, I encountered jokes, questions, and just a few drippings of disdain about my hair. Everybody pretty much accepted this new nappy-all-the-time Bsquared but I know that a few of them are waiting for me to get over this phase and press this wilderness out, lol. Mostly because they're just used to me having (kinda) long, straight hair. (Click here to see the old me.)

Anyway, I always knew that I wanted to loc my hair one day and, just how I woke up one day and decided to stop pressing my hair, I decided to start loc'ing my hair. I am a DIYer-- I started my own fingercoils and I do all maintenance myself. For the first time I have total control over my hair. If I want to wake up tomorrow and comb these suckas out, I will. No money lost and nobody's time but my own.

Back to this "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. A week or so ago, a lady stopped us in a parking lot and asked who maintained my locs, offering me her card. I panicked for a minute, thinking "Damn, lady, you just outted me in front of my mom!" but when my mother didn't mention anything I thought that either she didn't hear the lady clearly or didn't care. Anyway, today, we saw S. Epatha Merkerson (the black supervisor on Law & Order) on a commercial with her oft-hidden-under-a-wig locs showing. And my mom said, "Look, she's rocking her locs!" and I said "Me, too!" and pulled at a few of mine. Apparently, my mom had concluded that their were two types of locs- the kind you can take out (really coils) and the kind that you can't (actual locs). Eventually, I ended up telling her that, yes, I had coils but now I'm loc'ing.

"You're going to loc your hair?"

"I am loc'ing my hair. See?" pulling a couple out so she can see

"So, you know that if you don't want those anymore, you have to cut all ya hair off!"

"No, I don't. I can just take my time and comb them out. I mean, I can cut my hair off but all that doesn't matter b/c I plan on having these for a long time."

I gave her a quick explanation about how not all of the hair locs at once and how I just retwist the bases, etc. She looked a little confused but not bothered. YAY! One parent down, one parent to go. She was the most important one for this particular change, though. My dad is bald . . . hair issues aren't his area. But, my mom-- I care about what she thinks. My whole plan was to just get them used to my hair like this. I started rocking coils back in July, I'd coil my hair and after a week I'd rock a coil out. And they both like it, I even coiled my moms hair one day. I just wanted them to be comfortable with my hair like this-- I wanted them to approach it like just another hairstyle without clouding their judgement with their preconcieved notions about locs like thinking they're nasty or unruly or smelly or ugly or _________. And, I think it went well.

One small step for loc'dom, one leap for nappiness everywhere! Ok, that was corny . . . sorry.

See more pics of my hair journey- from a press'n'curl to a fro to locs- at

Oh . . . wait . . . don't leave! COME BACK!

You can thank the great Yeezy for the post title. "Love Lockdown" is his first single from his upcoming album. Peep the video below. It's kind of wierd to me. I expected something a la Glow In the Dark Tour.

Do ya'll like it? Let me know in the comments.

Stay tuned for an MFA update/post soon!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finding My Happy Place + Manuscript Madness

Friday marked the 9th anniversary of my maternal grandmother's passing but I can still remember October 11, 1999 like it was yesterday. When I think of my life and my family, I tend to regard it as "Before she died" and "After she died" because so much changed with that single event, including my writing. Honestly, I didn’t even know that I was that close to my grandmother—I lived in Cali and she lived down south. I’d been traveling down there to visit her and other members of my family since I was about 2 months old and then, while I slept, she was gone.

I don’t know what to call what I went into when she died. A depression? Sounds way too harsh. I’ll just say I slipped into a little bit of darkness. Yeah, that’s it, darkness. I have a habit (that I’m trying to –scratch that- will break!) of slipping into darkness when bad things happen. I put on a smiley face and go through life looking unscathed but inside it’s all dark.

Anyway, when my grandmother died, poetry became such a release. I was able to pour out my feelings about her death. Things I couldn't say because I was supposed to be "strong" for everybody else. But, at 12, I wasn't strong enough . . . not at 13, not at 14 . . . hell, sometimes not at 21. Soon, I redirected that pain into other topics but they were all so sad and angry. And that’s what my poetry was, for a long time—sad and angry.

I kind of feel like Mary J. Blige—I do sad and angry so well that when I try to write about something else it feels foreign. Heart break, death, anxiety, abuse, deception, rejection—I reworked and twisted those things a million different ways. Didn’t help that I had a lot of hurt come my way to feed that fire—but that’s another blog, lol.

So, what does this have to do with applying to MFAs?

When I look back at the 300+ poems I’ve written since 1999, I feel like I’ve outgrown them. Okay, clearly, I’ve outgrown the really early ones, lol. But, even the more recent work doesn’t feel right. I don’t think they represent my potential and I don’t really want to include any of it in my manuscript (for applications).

In my CW classes this fall, I’ve written a variety of poems. None of them really give off warm and fuzzy feelings but I don’t necessarily want to write “warm and fuzzy” poems—I just want to be able to show that I’m versatile. Like, MJB, I want to show the people (including the MFA readers) that I can do nice and happy just as well as I do sad and angry, lol. I’ve tried, ya’ll, I mean really tried to write poetry that didn’t possess just a tinge of darkness. I can count those poems on just a few fingers and half of them were written about things that glittered like gold but ended up worth no more than a tin can, lol.

I’m the kind of poet that just lets the poem flow and go where it needs to go and say what it needs to say—I don’t force anything on it or start with any real plans. But, sometimes, if I’m writing and I feel myself slipping into a sour tone, I just stop. I know, I know . . . I should just let it flow. But, damn, it gets boring! And, I don’t always want to relive the pain it takes to make the voice real. You know what I mean?


I just wrote a poem about “Autumn.” Easy, right? It starts off nice—pretty colors of sunsets, football games, leaves falling. But, WHAM, suddenly it slips into not so nice stuff—poverty and decay. So, I stopped . . . I bumped that part to the bottom of my word doc and tried to begin that section again. But, nothing worked. So, I conceded and picked up where I left off. My prof and some classmates liked it. For me, it was bittersweet. I was proud of it but mad at it at the same time. I wish I could have written something else, but I don't know what else I could have written.

Oh, the passion of poetry!

It’s not that I am not a happy person because I am. I'm always laughing, smiling, joking around. But, I guess, it’s difficult for me to pull from those good things and inject more positive images into my poetry.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Similar issues?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Yah Trick . . . Yah! (Politican Rant #2)

What has me in such a cantankerous mood that I'd quote that terrible Soulja Boy chorus, you ask?

"Say It Ain't So" Sarah!

I can't help but think that people inside the McCain camp are having some Homer Simpson moments!

Disclaimer:This is a rant. Love it or leave it. I am not a political analyst and I don't claim to know a whole lot about politics (I guess that's what me and SP have in common huh?). With that said, take nothing that you read in this post as "fact," other than the "fact" that it is my opinion. Want to know the facts? Research, like I did. My particular brand of humor and sarcasm may not be pleasing to everyone's pallette and that's okay-- I laugh at my own jokes, anyway. Enjoy!

McCain what were you thinking? I'll tell you what you were thinking . . . you saw a bunch of jaded Hillocrats running around trying to find somebody, hell anybody, to support instead of Obama and you decided to toss out some lipstick wearing bait to reel them in. You had them fooled at first, too! But you forgot that Sarah was going to have to open her mouth without a teleprompter in front of her. Well, I hope she gets regular pedicures because she's been tasting her toes ever since the RNC!

Did you think that the Hillocrats (read:Fanatic Hillary supporters. Friendly jibe, Scouts Honor!) were that stupid? Sen. Clinton and "Pitbull in Lipstick" Palin are nothing alike! Do you think all of these liberal Hillocrats were going to buy into Palin's conservatism? No one said it better than Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton during one of the now infamous SNL skits!

Or better yet, did you think that women were stupid? You assumed that we'd vote for ya'll just because Sarah Palin is a woman? Why not pick a better woman for the job, if that was your aim? What about the other female governors? What about one of the women in the Senate? One of the women in the House of Representatives? What about Condeleeza Rice? (Well, I have a theory about why ya'll didn't tap Condi, but I'll save that for later). No, you picked Polar Bear Poachin' Palin, sight unseen, and it's just your luck that lemon laws don't cover political running mates. If you're going to be sexist atleast do it right!

All jokes aside, though, I am honestly offended by this. How dare you mar the history of women in the US by picking Piss Poor Palin? From this point on, no matter which way the election goes, she's going to be popping up in my children's history books as the first woman to be a vice presidential candidate for a major political party! As a woman, she embarasses me. That ol' "Don't mind me, I'm just a hockey mom . . . I don't know how you all work over there in Washington" routine is nothing short of being the "Damsel in Distress." Since when is it okay to not know anything? Since when is it a good debate tactic to avoid giving straight answers to questions during a debate (if you even answer at all)? Since when is it okay to shout out 3rd graders at a major political debate? Since when is it okay to be interviewed two respected journalists and not even be prepared with answers to simple, softball questions like "What newspapers and magazines do you read?" If she can't handle an interview, how is she going to handle meetings with foreign leaders? How do I trust the economy in her hands when she refers to the average american as Joe Six Pack? I'm sorry but she's going to need more than "folksy" sayings and rosey cheeks to get me to take anything she says seriously.

And since I mentioned the debate, let me say this. That thing was a masacre of epic proportions. Biden handled it like the skilled politician that he is. The winner was clear. Smokin Joe Biden was a clearly the victor! My favorite jab of the night? "Now That's What I call a bridge to nowhere."

I wonder if the folks in the media feel as ridiculous as they sound when they say that Palin won? lol. Sure, she did better than I expected but that's not saying much. I expected her to stare into the camera like a deer in headlights when asked to defend her positions but she didn't. Instead, she chose to ignore the debate all together and just read from her script just like her grandpa--oops, I mean McCain-- taught her. I wonder if they took her out to icecream when she was done? I think her performance was worth two scoops of sherbert!

Also, why is it okay for people to openly admit to supporting Palin because she is a woman, when if a black person even breathes the word Obama we're accused of only voting for him because he's black? There's black people out there right now that want to vote for Obama for sound reasons but won't because they're afraid of being labeled as an "Obamabot" that is voting based on color and not character. But, they can unapologetically target disgruntled Hillocrats and undecided women with their psuedo feminist Palin propganda and no one bats an eye? What gives?

The cout de grace for me, though, is how much everybody sqawked about Obama not being experienced enough yet they push this blaringly obvious inexperienced governor into the spotlight and call her a maverick! A MAVERICK? Give me a freakin break. If Obama acted the way that she does they'd laugh him out of town. Both parties would be screaming from the mountaintops that he needed to be pulled from the ticket.
But, no, Sweet Lil' Sarah is becoming the nation's sweetheart and they're letting her off easy . . . why? Because she's a woman. Yeah, I said it. If she was a man, they would never, in a million years, suggest that Biden use a soft approach with her during the debates. If she was a man, they would never have accepted her "folksy" quotes and winky wit. If Biden had ignored her like she had ignored Biden's brief emotional moment (as he recalled the accident that took his wife and daughter) he'd have a scarlet S (for sexist) on his chest right now . They're handling her with kid gloves because she is a woman. How patronizing and sexist of them!

Watching her is like watching a female soldier do "girl pushups"-- if you want to fight with boys then you need to flex like them, too!

Ok . . . i'm done . . . this concludes my second political rant. it really was fun . . . I laughed, I cried, I cranked that Soulja Boy on that [OH!] . . . lol.

Please keep your comments respectful. If your ideas differ from my own, that's fine. I welcome discussion and opposition.