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Archive for the tag “writing”

Afternoon Tea Is a Sweet Indulgence

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of tea.

I blame my mother. She’s always good for making the perfect cup and she’s passed down that preference to me.

I pride myself on the fact that I can make a great cup of tea for my guests, and I love watching their faces when they take that first sip.

I also love how having a cup of tea with someone opens the door to wonderful conversations in a relaxed environment. Time and time again, I’ve put on a pot of tea, or introduced someone to some of my fancier loose leaf teas and hours later, we’re still sitting there talking and having cup after cup.

To me, having a cup of tea is just like lighting a candle, burning incense ,or playing music. It sets a tone for relaxation and comfort. It’s something you can enjoy alone while you collect your thoughts, or do something creative, or get to work. It’s something you can share with others. My teas are not just an indulgence, it’s an act of self-care and it’s an opportunity I use to love on the people in my life.

Well, when a former co-worker of mine wanted to hang in downtown Annapolis this weekend to catch up, among the very nice places she recommended for us to have brunch, she also offered up Reynold’s Tavern, a very lovely tea house.

Since I had never had formal tea at a tea house and my collection of loose leaf teas is growing faster than I can drink it, I jumped at the chance.

I have to say, we really enjoyed ourselves and had a great conversation about the writing process and the emotional journey it takes to write, secure an editor and go into the publishing process. I haven’t gotten as far as her, (she is a brilliant historical fiction novelist) but I do know what it’s like to start a novel or a book and be parts obsessed with it and also feel completely insecure about the whole thing.

There was an extensive tea menu, we both had teas that were based on Jane Austen characters, and they were sooooo good.

There’s something extra special about drinking from a tea-cup and resting it gently on a saucer or taking the infuser out of the pot and just letting the tea rest.

In between all of these actions, there’s discussion and there’s nibbling from the three-tiered serving set.

The tea was delicious, so much so, we each purchased some to take home. I was in love with my crab and shrimp Quiche and light salad and really enjoyed the small desserts.

As I get older, I appreciate these kind of old school ways of gathering and socializing. This goes right up there with meeting with my book club and sharing ideas and feelings with other brainy people who are passionate about books, and what’s going on in the world.

In a time where it seems the ratchet is revered, it’s nice to dip away to another place in time and visit a place like Reynold’s Tavern in the heart of a historic city, and be ladies and gentlemen of leisure.

Youthful Hubris And Remembering My Younger, Self-Centered Self

I had humbling moment last week.

That moment made me wonder if I was cut out to be a parent.

A few months ago, on this blog, I talked about being very excited to have a young mentee, interested in journalism. We hatched a plan to ask a local newspaper to give her a mini internship considering she’s just 14-year-old.

I told her we’d take it seriously, and that I’d write a proposal and recommendation. It may not work, but it was worth a shot. I asked her to research cover letters and write on of her own.

She wrote the letter and I believe she wrote it in a way that tried to make her sound more sophisticated than her age, but kind of shows that she is young and inexperienced. I edited her cover letter, fixed some grammatical stuff and gave her glowing praise in addition to telling her she should pump up more of her activities at school involving writing and to mention an article she liked that currently ran in the publication.

She did what I asked, but it looked like she purposely didn’t change some things I told her to change.

And that upset me.

I got on my high horse thinking about how I’m trying to help her out, and I’m using my time and energy to only get back a short, curt email (which is unusual for her). It was really upsetting.

So, I had to step back and take myself out of the equation.

After talking with a dear friend who works with young people her age everyday, it gave me some perspective.

I remembered the first time I’d been edited heavily for my first article with the college newspaper. When I saw what was actually printed, I was crestfallen. I wrote the most beautiful, wordy, esoteric account of a college volleyball game, you’d thought it was the missing excerpt from War and Peace. I get it now. It was wayy melodramatic. It wasn’t news. And it wasn’t one of the greatest sports moments in life. My editor had every right to chop me the hell up.

Fast forward to years later, when I was an intern under the tutelage of the amazing Simeon Booker. He was the journalist to cover the Emmett Till case for Ebony magazine. HUGE!!!

I had a 500-word article and he ripped it to shreds. Made me rewrite it a whopping EIGHT times. I was furious. And by the fifth version, I had no clue what the man could have possibly wanted. But I kept at it until he finally gave me an approving nod.

I sent off the latest revisions to my mentee this morning and I shared my story about the rewrites and it being a part of the process, and how I noticed she was short with me in her previous email. I showered her with more praise and then I went to Amazon.com and bought her first Associated Press Stylebook and had it shipped to her house as a surprise.

I want nothing in return. Honestly. I did think it would be dope to have a mini me, who admired me and wanted to be like me, but that’s not the point of mentoring someone. It’s letting their differences shine and helping them get to where ever it is they are trying to go. It’s not about me.

I do want this child to know that I support her and can appreciate her passion. So even if she wants to be mad about my edits, I’m an adult. I can take it. She’s got a long way to go, and there’s no reason for me to get bent out of shape about it or take it personally. I am an adult.

While I understand her pain, and she’s probably used to her teachers fawning over her and telling her that her work is brilliant, I’m sure she was pissed to see her awesome letter bleed red with corrections.

It was an important lesson for both of us to learn and even if we part ways and she thinks I’m awful, I hope she uses her Stylebook in good health and will become a raging success.

I never had a little sister. Maybe there was a reason. I don’t think I have the stomach for it. 😉

 

 

 

 

Advocate for Indulging In Your ONE Bad Day

I’d been feeling like crap lately. Mentally. Which manifests itself in the physical making you feel drained, achy and just tired.

I feel much better now, thanks.

I spent my entire day off Friday, someplace between my bed and my couch. Unshowered, I went in and out of sleep, occasionally peering at the ratchet daytime television.

When the voices of angry babies mothers and fathers awaiting DNA tests grew too loud and way too chaotic, I turned it off and returned to my own thoughts.

I wanted my mother. Her mental illness often prevents us from having a real conversation for any long period of time and so I cried for myself and the helplessness surrounding me and that situation, that I normally do a great job of ignoring and pushing past.

I could not stop the tears, nor did I stop myself. I heaved. I coughed. I cried til headache. Til emotional muscle failure. I needed that cleanse. I needed to stare down that monster.

It was ok that I missed my mother. It was ok to allow myself to miss my mother and mourn the more mentally stable mother I lost at the age of 16.It was ok that I missed her nurturing. It was ok that I was angry that while as thankful as I was for the mother figures in my life who saved me, nurtured me and helped me along my journey to and through womanhood, I still desired and needed the woman who gave me life, was still yet living, but at the same time a flesh and blood ghost.

So I cried.

I gathered up enough strength to put on a ratty sweater, some fake uggs and a hat and go to the grocery store to pick up a large slice of cake and some ice cream. I looked a mess and dared someone to even look at me sideways.

I returned to quarantine.

The next day, I stayed in the house for a great while, but I was determined to finally get out. I’m glad I did, because the weather was gorgeous. I really let one beautiful day just pass me by. The previous night after compulsively buying Hip Hop Abs, and patiently, slowly giving my information to the chipper customer service person determined to read all of the add ons verbatim, I added yet another fitness DVD my growing collection of workout DVDs that went ignored for the last week. I also purchased a cheap ticket to attend a theatrical performance of Howard drama students at the old alma mater.

Not sure how Hip Hop Abs will work out, they will be express mailed thanks to my friend, but the cheap theater ticket, certainly was the best impulse buy of Friday night.

Little did I know how watching those students and remembering my own dreams while at HU, and listening to the words of Langston Hughes be so well performed with such passion and pride would help to knock me out of my funk on Saturday night.

I thought about my dreams and hopes. I thought about the things I loved and still love.

And on Sunday, while I didn’t make it to church (darn daylight savings), I wrote three poems and I delved into a book I had stopped reading, Makeda, by Randall Robinson.

I hadn’t been this enthralled since reading “The Human Stain” and “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Those are among my absolute favorites.

The timing and my mind was right to finally get into the book. And I think it’s quite brilliant. When I first started reading it, unfocused and too busy, I thought the prose was lofty and hard to relate to. I had to adjust my antenna. I’m glad I picked it back up. There were moments I just wanted to highlight passages and print them out as reminders. It spoke to me in a new way, loud and clear.

I found myself nodding. The main character wants to be a writer. He has a sense of justice.  He feels like an outsider. He’s filled with imagination and spirit. He’s drawn to “strange” people– the kind of folks most people have difficulty understanding, but he gets them. He doesn’t judge. He leans on the intuitive other worldly wisdom of his blind grandmother, who has a gift to see more than most. He went to a Historically Black College.

I exchanged messages with a dear friend nearly all day, with all of my random rants and all. I felt love and acceptance.

The crazy thing about feeling so much over this entire weekend was while I spent all of Friday in serious, debilitating emotional pain, I felt it, and I did the things I needed to do to pull myself out.

I prayed. I wrote. I read and saw something inspiring. I did talk to friends, even when I didn’t feel like it.

I took a shower. (That helps a lot)

It’s odd when your hurt or feelings of pain are familiar, like menstrual cramps. Like cramps, you know what remedies you need to make the pain subside. You know the kind of cramps you can keep doing your daily tasks to, and you know the kind where you need to be drugged up and home in the fetal position.

I actually needed an entire day to be catatonic, wallow in my pain, live with it, stare it down, cry and let it out. If it went into a second, and third and fourth day, then that’s another matter altogether. One friend asked if I needed to go back to therapy. I don’t think I need to at this time, but if my state didn’t improve, I knew I wouldn’t be against it.

Today’s song. “Get it Together,” by the prolific India.Arie

Freshly Pressed and I Ain’t Talkin’ About A Suit

pixtawan/freedigitalimages.net

Before I go back to my regularly scheduled program of random ramblings  about my life, I felt I’d be completely remiss not to mention how thrilled I am to have been Freshly Pressed last week.

Thanks to the new followers of the blog who stopped by and decided to stay awhile. Thanks to the folks who started following me early on, and who showed me love on their blogs. Hyperactive Inefficency, Kiss and Hide, Sorry I Am Not Sorry.

I do want to warn you folks that even though my Freshly Pressed blog post was about Zumba, I’m not a fitness blogger. So I hope that doesn’t disappoint you.

I write about all sorts of things that cross my mind. Things that excite me and make me happy (great shoes), being a daddy’s girl, things that make me sad (ending an engagement), and things that make me shake my fist and say “that ain’t right!” (not getting a pickle spear with my sandwich).

I talk about sometimes feeling uncomfortable and awkward situations that happen at work (including my fear of doing a number 2 at work) and the pressure people put on themselves to be a certain way or obtain a certain level of “success” by a certain time.

When I started this blog, I wanted to talk about my journey to turning 30 and take the fear and anxiety I pretended not to have out of the whole thing.

As for the Zumba post, I’m blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response. I even appreciated the people who said I was mean, and bitter and judging other people to make myself feel better.

I was moved by the people who told me how much weight they’ve lost by doing Zumba or making other changes in their lives. I was thrilled that people who were a little unsure about trying Zumba said they were willing to try it now.

I loved the folks who proudly proclaimed and embraced their clumsyness and shake what their mama’s gave em with no fear. I’m proud of the curvy women who stepped forward and said how much they love themselves and how good they feel when they are moving their bodies.

I was encouraged by actual Zumba instructors who wanted to share the blog post.

All of you reminded me of how powerful writing is and how powerful writing with honesty and a little humor can be. The human experience of wanting to be better people, wanting to be healthy and being a bit jealous of people who look the part is something we all share. Thank you for understanding, laughing and saying, “Hey, me too!”

You reached out from all over the world, and I heard you and I tried to respond to as many of you as possible to show my appreciation. If you like the blog and stick around, I thank you. If you stick with me for a couple of weeks and find I’m not your style, please know I still appreciate you taking the time to read and find at least one post that resonated with you.

Collectively, you all made my week, month, year. Even if I’m never Freshly Pressed again, I’ll still tell my grandkids about this moment. I do not take what happened last week lightly. In fact, I still have a hard time believing it. But the stats from last week are an excellent reminder. I am humbled, yet I feel quite validated as a writer.

Thank you again! I’m floating on air.

Now it’s time to get back to writing…

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