Thursday, July 29, 2004


So ... i was talking yesterday with Neena and Kevin about friendships, relationships, and family. It's no news to me, but i was reminded again of how distant i have become from my family. In this culture (Big Urban USA, circa 2004), many of us seem to accept that as normal. People grow up, begin to lead their own lives, and their relationships change.

I've spent many years, though, wondering why. And i've also been wondering at the way my relationship with my family plays out in my relationships with other people in my life. I seem to have an unnatural ability to detach and move on.

Not everyone who thinks they have a friendship with me actually does. As i remarked in our conversation yesterday, if people paid more attention to how i relate to my family, they might have a clue about what kind of friend i am.

Let me be clear: I love my family. I love my friends. I care about all of them. It's just that i don't always know how to be connected with them.

So when i don't call or write, when i am out of touch for months, people take it personally. It may sound cliché, but all i can tell them is, "It's not about you, it's about me." I'm a believer in choice, so i am clear that this is how i am choosing to relate to people in my life; i'm just not clear about why.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I could really use some feedback on this.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Great Opening Lines

Some books start off slow, but build and develop their characters and plot in ways that are engaging and intriguing. Then there are the books that start off with a bang. As i've been thinking more lately about my own writing, i've been reflecting on some of my favorite opening lines. 

There are only two i can recite from memory. Charles Dickens' opening to A Tale of Two Cities is probably the most famous. "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times ...." Still, my all-time favorite (so far) has to be,

"They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time." (Toni Morrison, Paradise)

Damn. Don't that just make you want to know what the hell is going on?
There are other lines, ones that i don't necessarily remember, but that i've stumbled across thumbing through the beginning of my books.

"The damn'd blood burst, first through his nostrils, then pounded through the veins in his neck, the scarlet torrent blinded him, and brought Arthur down, down, down, down, down." (James Baldwin, Just Above My Head)

"A chair, a table, a lamp. Above, on the white ceiling, a relief ornament in the shape of a wreath, and in the cnter of it a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out. There must have been a chandelier, once. They've removed anything you could tie a rope to." (Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale)

"I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver. That was in 1983. I was out of school for a year. This gonna be my second baby. My daughter got Down Sinder. She's retarded." (Sapphire, PUSH)

"I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm." (Octavia Butler, Kindred)

"1968. Mom and I were both sure Ben was dead. If i'm never sure of anything else in my life, I knew the exact moment Ben and I had stopped speaking to each other for good. And I knew Mom could tell he wasn't listening to her anymore, either." (Bil Wright, Sunday You Learn How to Box)

I'm sure there are more, but these ar the ones i came across today. Any suggestions for opening lines that might make me want to pick up the book?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Top Ten Allies of Wisdom

Okay, so i subscribe to two of those TopTen mailing lists that sends out lists of things to think about every day. There's one for business, one for personal ... i'm sure there's a daily top ten list for mollusk-lovers somewhere out there. My inbox is flooded daily with advice on "The Top Ten Ways to Stop Spam," "The Top Ten Myths About Taking Control of Your Career," or "The Top Ten Benefits of Journaling." (Yeah, like i need that one.

Every now and then, though, i get a gem. Yesterday's TopTenPersonal was interesting and gave me pause to think about some of the things going on in my life right now. So i'm posting it here in lieu of writing something myself today (with all credits intact, of course).

Top 10 Allies of Wisdom

(You can also read this TopTen here.)
  1. The still, small voice within.
    Remember, the ego speaks first and loudest and does not wish us well. It is the still, small voice within that guides with wisdom.

  2. Patience.
    The reward of patience is ... patience.

  3. Non-action.
    The ability to refrain from taking action can take lifetimes to develop. It is a rare quality.

  4. Understanding that the fastest way is often the opposite way.
    This principle is related to the metaphysical law of rhythm. "All things are always changing to their opposites."

  5. Timing.
    It's not what you say, or how you say it. Mostly what counts is WHEN you say it.

  6. Applying an appropriate amount of force.
    Don't kill a fly with a hammer.

  7. The ability to stand alone.
    Sine qua non.

  8. Integrity.
    Do you act the same when no one is looking?

  9. Realizing that those you wish to impress will do what you do, not what you say.

  10. Don't ask anyone to do something you are not willing to do yourself.
    And ... do it first!

About the Submitter:

This piece was originally submitted by Nancy R. Fenn, who can be reached at, or visited on the web at is a service of, the leader in coach training.

Copyright 2000-2004 CoachVille, LLC. May be distributed if full attribution is given and copyright notice is included.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Apparently, I'm A Dictator

Some of you may have already realized this, but keep it to yourselves, okay. Besides, i can't resist a good meme. And this one's a hoot!

So this time j. brotherlove (no relation) set me up. Okay, so his post had nothing to do with me and if i hadn't checked his blog tonight i wouldn't have even known about it.

So what.

The point is, what started out as one of those fun personality quizzes quickly turned out to be a helluva lot more accurate than i would have expected. I took the quiz, whizzing through it on pure gut reaction. What i got in the results was character profile that seems to have me nailed.

Wackiness: 40/100
Rationality: 48/100
Constructiveness: 44/100
Leadership: 66/100

"You are an SEDL--Sober Emotional Destructive Leader. This makes you a dictator. You prefer to control situations, and lack of control makes you physically sick. You feel have responsibility for everyone's welfare, and that you will be blamed when things go wrong. Things do go wrong, and you take it harder than you should.

"You rely on the validation and support of others, but you have a secret distrust for people and distaste for their habits and weaknesses that make you keep your distance from them. This makes you very difficult to be with romantically. Still, a level-headed peacemaker can keep you balanced.

"Despite your fierce temper and general hot-bloodedness, you have a soft spot for animals and a surprising passion for the arts. Sometimes you would almost rather live by your wits in the wilderness somewhere, if you could bring your books and your sketchbook.

"You also have a strange, undeniable sexiness to you. You may go insane."

Now ain't that some shit.

Hmm ... all evil geniuses, follow me ....

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Life-Changing Conversations

I've been doing a lot of talking lately.

I don't think i've encountered more people than usual or that i've been particularly chatty. It's just that i've been more aware of the way talking, conversing can affect people, especially me. (Conversation, Conversion. I wonder if those two words are actually related.)

In the past couple of weeks, i've had a shitload of conversations with people about what's going on in their lives that's really none of my business and that most people wouldn't choose to talk about with their friends.

"What made you decide to get an HIV test? What, exactly, have you done that makes you think you might have contracted HIV? What would it mean for you if your test came back positive?

Knowing your result, what are you going to do now?"

These aren't your average dinner-with-friends kind of conversations. They're pointed, purposeful, and quite frequently gut-wrenching. And that's just for me.
There are other kinds of conversations that i'm paid to have. Conversations with people i sometimes find problematic and obtuse. Where people stubbornly refuse to understand even what they themselves are saying. Group dialogues that test my ability to facilitate productive conversation. Times that wrack my nerves from all the fragile and damaged egos in one room.

Then there are the conversations with friends, comrades, co-workers, and the like that seem to move me toward a greater understanding of myself. The conversations that allow me to see myself -- at least partially -- through other people's eyes. Simple things like asking my opinion about things i would not have considered opion-worthy of me. Recommending that i apply for jobs that i personally don't think i'm prepared for. Or letting me know very matter-of-factly how something i did or said has changed their lives.

I even had a dream last night that was full of nothing but conversations. Just before i woke up, my boss came into my dreamspace and started telling me about the fabulous, life-changing conversation she had just had with someone. "Ooh! We had the best conversation!!!" (It's something she would say.) I woke up thinking about how so much of our time is spent talking and working through our lives using the words we share. Relationships are built or broken through conversations. Jobs are won or lost based on conversations.

And yes, lives are sometimes changed, simply through conversation.

Conversation. Conversion. It can happen.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The What If's ...

Anybody remember a book that was popular some years back, called The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock? It was a popular conversation starter at parties, with questions like:

Knowing you had a 50 percent chance of winning and would be paid 10 times the amount of your bet if you won, what fraction of what you now own would you be willing to wager?
A lot of the questions took on the tone of, "Imagine ..." or "Suppose ..." or "What if ...." So i decided to come up with some "What If's" of my own. Answer if you like, add more questions if you feel it.

  • What if you were offered the opportunity to know the exact date, time and method of your death? Would you want to know, even if there was nothing you could do to change it?
  • If everyone you know was doomed to die, but you were given the opportunity to save three people, who would they be?
  • If you could remove one word from the English language, so that it would never be used again, what word would you choose?
  • What if Saudi Arabia cut off all oil shipments to the US tomorrow?
  • Imagine your best friend has a terminal illness and you have to give her the news. How do you tell her?
  • Imagine you won a million dollars, but you couldn't spend any of it on yourself (directly or indirectly). How would you spend it?
  • If you met the man/woman of your dreams, what would s/he think of you?
  • Think about something you do that's risky to your health. What could someone tell you that would make you stop, cold turkey, and never do it again?
  • What if actually worked and posted my posts when i posted them? Would you get to read what i wrote when i wrote it?
Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Okay, i saw it.

I finally made it to the theater Sunday with Troy to see the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. I gotta hand it to Michael Moore. He knows how not to pull the punches. I am not going to go into the details of the movie, because i know some people still haven't seen it, but suffice it to say it ain't easy to watch.

I found myself sitting in the theater almost from the first images tapping my foot, bouncing my knee and shifting in my seat with suppressed energy. Many of the people i know who've seen the film talk about how angry it made them. I guess part of what i felt was anger, but i felt some other things too.

Fear. Shame. Disgust.

I don't think i've ever been made to understand so completely (and graphically) the ways our so-called "leader" is pissing off the rest of the world. Especially the "Arabic" world. If i ever had any doubt before as to whether (or why) folks in Iraq hate the USA, i honestly doubt no more. Our forces, acting on the word of their commandeer-in-chief, have given them every reason.

It really made me that much more aware of what kind of desperate circumstances the powerful, wealthy, white men in this country are creating for everyone else. And, to paraphrase, desperate people go for desperate measures. Trust that we have not seen the end of the guerrilla tactics taht will be enacted against this country.

I will give these small bits of advice to those who haven't seen the film yet:

  1. Go see it. Don't wait, either; there's a Republican movement to have it pulled from theaters because it's "campaign propaganda." (Consider it required pre-election viewing.)
  2. When you go, prepare yourself for some gut-wrenching violence. This is not sanitized, Hollywood-style killing; there are explicit scenes of the realities of war that we don't get to see on the evening news.
  3. Be prepared to be moved. If not by the violence, then by the deep emotions displayed by some of the people Michael Moore interviewed.

In the end, i left the theater with a jumble of emotions: anger, fear, sorrow, frustration, and an unsettling sense of hopelessness. After all, none of this is particularly new information or new behavior. Some rulers are just better at keeping the peace while they grab their piece.

The rest of us peons just have to live with the crumbs.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Ain't Got Sense Enuf to be 'Shamed!

It's finally here!!!

Updated from 06/30/2004 - Check out the CD cover!!!

The ADODI Muse CD Ain't Got Sense Enuf to be 'Shamed is finally here! I am excited and nervous and proud and critical all at once.

In case you don't know who we are, The ADODI Muse: A Gay Negro Ensemble is a performance poets troupe founded by the late Tony Daniels back in 1995. After many years of writing, reading, sharing, growing, losing, coping, recovering, progressing, thriving, renewing, practicing, performing, editing, recording, scrimping, financing, waiting, waiting, and waiting ... the CD is actually in our hands.

We are good.

I can say that now, without feeling that someone or something is going to come along and challenget the truth of the statement. We're good at what we do. Anthony likes to call it "edutainment" (but don't let him tell you he made up the word). We endeavor to teach, to enlighten as we entertain. Time and again, even when i'm not sure we will, we seem to do just that.

So this CD is the culmination of YEARS of work and i am proud of it, and if you care enough about me to take the couple of minutes from your life to read this post, then i expect a check for $15.00 from you and i'll be more than happy to send you a copy of the CD.

Let me know when the check is in the mail. ;-)


Saturday, July 03, 2004

Damn. Another one.

Okay, so my boy EJ got me. He's got this acronym generator thingie on his blog that i just had to check out. Then i kinda liked the results it gave me. Whadaya think?


Name / Username:

Name Acronym Generator

Of course, i realize that just about everybody i know who has a blog has already uploaded this one. (So don't let me have it about being late again, Bernie. I know, i know ....)