Friday, March 25, 2011
Okay so the purpose of this here blog is to...um...blog right? As in often right? Well how about daily? Yes, daily. One woman. One post. 5 days a week. Think I can do it?
Guess we'll find out soon.
Starting on Monday, April 4th Alovelydai.com will become a Monday through Friday site filled with new and lovely content.
Well...everyday can't be lovely but that's why I write right?
So this is where you come in. Yes, YOU there squinting your eyes trying to read this. I need YOU to help me. I'd love to know what you love about the site already and what you'd love to see more of. Don't be shy. I would really love to know. See how considerate I am?
So you know that wonderful comment section that some of you have been scared to use? Yes, that one. Please use it and offer your suggestions.
Thanks in advance!!
A Lovely Dai
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
|A chair of my own.|
"I watched your vlog and what you were going through last year feels exactly like what I'm going through right now. I work full time and have a class most nights. When I'm not in class I'm studying. I don't have kids but I have a fiance who I love enough to want to spend time with. LOL! The reality is I just don't have a lot of time for me and writing has always been a passion of mine. You said this blog helped you get back in the habit. I don't think I want to blog but I feel like I need a jump start to get back to doing what I love. I can't seem to get going. Do you have any other suggestions?"
-excerpted from emailAwww the perils of wanting to write or BE a writer. Something I know all too well. If you missed my little talk last week check it out here. In brief I mentioned that until I started this blog I had stopped writing for over 12 years. Life truly got in the way. Getting my groove back was not easy...IS not easy but I sort of, kind of, on a good day, when Saturn is aligned with Mars...know how to make this work. So to Tania & anyone else who loves this craft and are looking for ways to make the process easier this one is for you.
Step 1: Just WRITE
Yes, I know this is easier said than done. But you have to just do it. Pick up the pen. Grab the laptop or smart phone and start typing away. Here's the trick. It doesn't have to make sense. Don't worry about grammar and punctuation. While it's great to have an point or outline you don't have to be strong in your intentions. Writers all have this weird pressure that every word has to be brilliant or a masterpiece. We want everything we touch to result in a bestseller or Pulitzer prize. This warped logic keeps us stagnant. I'll tell you a secret. One day I needed a break from my family but I didn't know that at the time. I was just drained and couldn't hear myself think. I started rambling on this blog about it. I just needed to vent. Somehow I remembered how my mom would do her nails at the most inopportune times. The end result became one this site's top 10 posts. I Can't...My Nails Are Wet was simple and devoid of fancy writer touches yet it resonated with many of you. And I had no idea where it was going when I began it. Sometimes your fingers know what the words before you do. Once an idea starts to form THEN go back, edit, revise, and shape it.
Step 2: Let others know this is your plan
There are two reasons for this. One. If by chance you're banging away at the keys drenched in inspiration the last thing you want is someone interrupting you. Losing your train of thought as a writer is a kin to missing the winning basket. It's a fail. When people understand your passion they are more likely to give you space. This certainly doesn't apply to little people. My son doesn't give a rat's azz if I'm knee deep in thought but his Daddy does. So if necessary he'll take him elsewhere while I finish. Two. Supportive people love to help and sometimes that help comes in the form of additional resources. I was applying for a writing gig and my bestie (without ever asking her) re-did my resume. I also receive emails weekly about various workshops, writing opportunities, and other gigs. Involving others in your plans gives you the support needed to pursue your goals and can also lead to other great opportunities.
Step 3: Understand & Accept That There Will Never Be A Great Time To Write
This is another unrealistic goal that writers have that can be restricting. Personally, I had a Virginia Woolf mentality. "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." This logic has no real basis except for the need for occasional solitude. I longed for a room of my own with a perfect desk, natural light, a comfy chair surrounded by bits of inspiration. I've settled for just the chair...in a corner...in my bedroom. None of the stuff we think we need to create matters anyway. My muse has no concept of space and/or time. She loves to taunt me one minute before my alarm goes off, or in the shower, or better still in the car during my commute. My muse gives less than a damn if I have pen or paper or smart phone. She arrives in brilliant fashion. That diva is high maintenance. So I learned to work with her. I learned to memorize my words the way rappers write paperless. This works for me. Finding out the way your muse operates is as important as the actual task of writing. Learn not to restrict her. And keep paper & pen handy in random places just in case.
Step 4: Network With Other Writers
Few things please me more about writing than the bond I have with other writers. I've loved it since the very first creative writing class I attended on Saturdays (yes, Saturdays) when I was 7. Classes, workshops, and online communities are great resources when you need someone to critique your work and help you to truly develop a voice. Nowadays, I'm out of the classroom but the online writing/blogging community fulfills me in every way. I am in awe daily of the talent that I stumble across. I find this bond is helpful even on Twitter. The amount of information, inspiration, and downright ratchetness that exudes 140 characters is astounding. Writers have an amazing way with words. There's nothing better than surrounding yourself with like minded individuals who love your passion as much as you do. And hey if you find inspiration from that bond then that's even better!
These are just a few ways to get back in or stay in the groove. Do you have other suggestions? Tell me.
The floor is open.
Monday, March 21, 2011
What we know about the songstress is that she has this big amazing voice capable of making every hair on your arm give a standing ovation. What we have yet to hear is her voice translated into a more modern melodic meandering of today's music. Being a great singer has its privileges. You often have your pick of the best songwriters and producers in the business. Being a great singer and NOT a songwriter is usually where great singers fail.
Every song feels like a version of something else. It feels like a borrowed suit that hasn't been properly fitted for you. It kind of just hangs there.
Besides the aforementioned "I Remember Me", there are other good enough songs including one from R. Kelly, "Where You At" (video below). There are attempts at upbeat danceable tracks like, "Angel". There's even a beautiful soul stirring rendition of a Brooks & Dunn favorite, "Believe".
But then there's the most blatant misfire of them all; the inclusion of the late great Nina Simone classic "Feeling Good". Not because it's a horrible song. It's a great song. And not because Jennifer doesn't do it justice, she does in fact. It misses the mark because we will forever associate it with her Weight Watchers commercials, recent 80 pound weight loss, treadmills, and counting points. And that just doesn't work well on the CD overall.
Time will tell if Jennifer can find the right marriage between her voice and a great song. All in all Hudson's latest offering feels stuck in a Whitney Houston 80's time warp. Which makes perfect sense since Hudson and Houston are part of Clive Davis's J Records family. Davis seems to have picked up with Jennifer right where he left Whitney behind. It's also easy to imagine 80's big haired Houston singing any one of these songs and sounding just as great if not better.
Will you pick up the latest from Jennifer Hudson on March 22nd?
Click here to preview I Remember Me.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
My one current indulgence is a $3 organic Sea Salt & Almond Dark Chocolate Bar. It's 55% cacao & really yummy and Dat Dood ate the WHOLE THING!!!
|Exhibit ZZ-Q1: Dood where's my chocolate?|
|Exhibit ZZ-Q2: He destroyed the living room.|
|Exhibit ZZ-Q3: He chased me around swinging his book bag. |
Notice the evil in his eyes?
|Exhibit ZZ-Q4: Then he stole my slipper...off my foot!|
|Exhibit ZZ-Q5: Then he pulled cushion out of the sofa.|
|Exhibit ZZ-Q6: And somehow the Hulk got on his back.|
And yes, he finally took a nap. He finally took a nap after an ENTIRE hour of torturing me, throwing things at me, jumping on my head, and doing this half scream/half laugh thing for the entire time. In all, Dood was a Gremlin after midnight.
I'd like to thank his Dad for not coming to my rescue when I called him at work...my mother & step dad for putting me on speaker phone listening to my Mommy suffrage as Dood jumped on my head repeatedly...and the Fidge who was only 3 houses away and could have come home at any time to save me but said, "Sounds like a lot going on over there" right before she ended the call.
Oh & to his Auntie Nish who wouldn't let me lock myself in my room or leave him home alone. You also suck. Love isn't supposed to hurt Nish. Love isn't supposed to hurt.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
One year ago today I published the very 1st post on this blog. Happy Anniversary Alovelydai.com.
Here's my thank you to everyone who has supported this site!! The video sucks (hey it's my 1st one & it can only get better) but the audio is fine.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
|Dood at a nearby park the week he learned to walk.|
The lovely Jasmine Myers of EatMoveWrite.com asked the following questions at the end of this post:
What's your city's personality? Does it suit your style?
If you know me in real life or read this blog (thank you) often enough then you know I'm from Baltimore, MD. I've lived there up until 5 years ago. And I really lived there. Grew up there. Did my dirt there. And although I no longer pay taxes there, Baltimore is just as much a part of me as I am of it. It was written...on the side of a crab shanty...that also serves chicken boxes and half & halfs.
Anyway while reflecting on the above questions I had to ponder both my home city & my current city...town...ship (yes township) and I noticed a trend.
As a kid:
When I lived in East Baltimore City (the Eastside) I was a pumpkin seed eating, curse word learning, Salt & Pepa reciting, little hopper.
When I lived in Randallstown/Woodlawn/Windsor Mill (West Baltimore County) I was a bike riding, hop scotching, skate riding, cheerleading, pony tailed cutie.
As a teen:
When I lived in South West Baltimore City I was a chicken box eating, reckless, dysfunctional mess.
In Hampden aka the birthplace of the Jon Water's film Hairspray I was my most eclectic bohemian self. Au natural.
In Arbutus (a college town/ethnically diverse neighborhood) I was poetic & slightly militant. All black everything.
I lived in mostly suburban, working to middle class, upwardly mobile neighborhoods. Towson. Pikesville. I also worked in corporate America & wore suits everyday.
I live in rural suburbia. Yes, this is a real place. There are a number of big box chain stores a stones throw in any direction yet people still don't lock their doors. There are also fruit stands not occupied by man. Seriously. There is fruit. And a cash box. You pick up your strawberries or pumpkins or corn and leave cash in the box. 21st century honor system. Crazy right?
And the parks. Just like the big box chain stores I live smack dead in the middle of 4 huge, beautiful, spacious, parks. Four! I can chose a different park to visit any day of the week. Lovely! Sometimes I walk the trails and can't believe this is my neighborhood. This place has softened me.
And this makes sense because I'm a mom of two wonderful little people. This neighborhood & its schools, & its trees were picked for them. I just reap the benefits.
But all of this brings me to this question.
Do our cities reflect us or do we reflect them? What does your neighborhood say about and vice versa?
The floor is open.
Thanks Jasmine for the inspiration and make sure to check out EatMoveWrite.com. Her blog is peaceful which is a weird way to describe a blog but is really accurate.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Last week my mother asked me if I could imagine myself being "out there" dating & mating in this day in age. She was of course referring to the added complications of STDs, HIV, & AIDS. I quickly replied no. What else am I supposed to say to my mother...about dating...and sex. As far as she needs to know I've only had sex twice. I stand by that story.
But here's the real. Of course I can imagine it. I've done. I certainly wasn't born responsible. It's a learned behavior and I learned it (thankfully). I also don't think this day & age is any different than my mother's day & age in turns of reckless and irresponsible behaviors (in fact I'm pretty sure her generation invented it).
What's my point?
My point is this. As we recognize National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) today you'll hear and read a dozen stats telling you how many women & girls are affected with HIV/AIDS daily. You'll hear personal accounts of life with the disease. You'll also hear about how women of color are at larger risk of contracting the illness over ALL other groups.
And tomorrow we'll all go on our merry way.
Here's a thought. Let's not. Let's stop pretending that we're immune to HIV/AIDS. Let's stop putting our health in others people hands. Let's have more personal responsibility. Let's put ourselves on a pedestal. Let's have more self-compassion that if we were once young, stupid, reckless, or still are that that pattern will END TODAY.
Let's use the same energy and thought that we put into getting and keeping our hair & nails done on our whole health and that includes who and how we let someone connect with us.
We can do this ladies. HIV/AIDS is a preventable disease. Let's do everything in our power to lessen the risks.
Posted by Alovelydai at Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Now for months we've discussed getting Fidge's mattress from a local discount store...good stuff, cheap. However, the hubby makes a few calls, talks to a few sales reps, and makes plans to shop around. I think we'll find a good deal at the discount store so we head there first.
We roll up on a really nice twin size mattress, pillow top, name brand, highly discounted, comfy, cozy, perfect condition. I was sold! The hubby lays down & does a Goldilocks test and concludes that he wants to go to the next stop.
By this time I see a long night ahead of us and I want a turkey burger. "Let's just get dinner", I say.
Then as we're walking to the car has asks, "Do you trust me...to buy this mattress?"
Trust? Are we talking about trust & mattresses?And why the pause?
"Of course I trust you. I lived in an apartment I never saw until the day we moved in because I trusted you. What are we really talking about?"
Silence. Stares. Over glasses of water with lemon.
"So, are you not talking to me now?" I ask scanning the menu changing my turkey burger to a less caloric broiled fish, broccoli, and potatoes.
"I don't know..." he starts. "I just don't want to get the first thing we see and I already talked to the guy at [big box mattress store] and I think we'll make out better."
I'm reminded of the last time I talked to someone about a deal, had the hubby drive 40 minutes away so that the sales guy could try to up sell him on something completely different. I remind him of this.
"Well, if it's not a good deal I'll just leave."
"Yes, but it's a waste of time." I counter. Time is king in my home. I'm conditioned this way because of him. This is the same man who schedules and promptly ends family fun nights. Family. Fun. Nights!
Then he compared me to one of his clients. Rigid. Inflexible. Wanting what I want without thinking of the bigger picture, i.e., the possibility of free delivery or warranties none of which my discount store provides. Minus the comparisons to his customers he had a good point.
"You really want to know why?" I offer. "Every time we make a big or important purchase you do the leg work, run the numbers, and then as soon as we're in front of the sales person you look at me to make the decision. I hate that shyt. Make a decision or include me in the process! Don't defer to me at the end while you and the clerk look at me like 'what's it gonna be lil' lady?'"
He nods in agreement. "You have a point."
The waitress comes over. I give her my order and the hubby asks for a few more minutes.
"What? Can't make a decision?" I kid. He's not laughing. He gives me "The Stare" and I quickly apologize. Too soon?
"I tell you what. You take care of it. We'll get whatever you decide is the best deal. But you can NOT defer to me when it comes time to say yes or no. Deal?" He agrees, we shake on it, eat, and make a quick stop at an accessory store for a small lamp for Fidge.
But at the check out I had some fun. I couldn't resist. The sales clerk rings me up and offers an additional 20% off with a store credit card & blah blah blah & I have no intentions of getting this card but I stare blankly at her and (you guessed it) defer to the hubby.
He has no idea what just happened to which the poor unfortunate clerk goes through her spiel all over again. It was quite uncomfortable to watch and needed to end.
"Thanks, but I'll pass." I say laughing all the way to the car.
"Okay I get it!" Hubby says and we head to [big box mattress store].
Andrew the mattress guy did have a few good deals but the mattress the hubby honed in on wasn't the best deal and wasn't even in stock. But I can't say anything right? Or can I.
"Sit here" I gesture to the bed I was on. He does and asks Andrew for the details. He does a sit bounce thing. He pushes on the mattress. I guess this is the equivalent to "kicking the tires". Then he starts repeating himself.
"So this is THE best deal?"
"Nothing else you can offer?"
"So this is the best price, tax, everything out the door?"
Sigh. Somewhere there's a kid home partially supervised by his big sister playing video games, not getting a bath.
"Okay let's do it!" He announces. It took all I had not to motion Andrew to slap everything on the car before he changed his mind or asked 3 more versions of the same question. But I didn't.
So in the end we saved a whole $4 on a lesser mattress...that we took home ourselves. Yes, the one at discount store was better quality. No, I didn't say anything.
What? You think I should have? You think all is fair in marriage and mattresses?
Tell me about it.
The floor is open.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Musiq is back with a catchy little diddy "Anything". While the visuals aren't much to look at the song plays right into his sound; soulful & playful with the familiarity of another beloved classic (in this case LL Cool J's "Jingling Baby" which borrows from Central Line's Walking Into Sunshine).
I've been a loyal fan since "Just Friends". I used to annoy my friends with this song long before the short one learned to misspell so I'm excited. In fact, my favorite songs are hardly ever released as singles so I can't wait to hear the whole LP.
Check out the new video below and be sure to get Musiqinthemagiq due out May 3rd. Tell me what you think below.
Friday, March 4, 2011
The UK vocal goddess formerly known as the Songtress from the duo Floetry has finally released her highly anticipated solo LP Late Nights & Early Mornings. Here's my review track by track.
Anticipation (intro): The opener. Sets the mood. She's waiting. She's yearning. For someone. Love. That thing.
With You: Penned by J Records label mate Alicia Keys (she chose not to include it on her third offering As I Am) it's a beautiful, at times bold, other times sparse request to fulfill and satisfy the above Anticipation. Romantic & sensual Ambrosius owns this song.
Late Nights & Early Morning: The title track reminiscent of Prince (one of her idols) continues the theme of wanting and desiring. The last 30 seconds echos, snares, and kicks and you won't want it to end.
Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player): The first offering released from this LP (however misplaced on the track list) is a playful, bitter, sarcastic ode to an azzhole. "I'm a little bitter, just a little bitter, but I'm doing better, 'cause we ain't together". Awesome.
Far Away: How much time you got? Clearly the favorite since it's release weeks ago, Far Away is haunting. The lyrics, written for a dear friend after a suicide attempt are simply stunning. The last 2 minutes could easily be a whole new song that I would pay more to listen to. The accompanied video made the rounds quickly due to the song, the gorgeous Marsha, and the message; both touching and reverent.
Lose Myself: Her voice skips all over the track on this gorgeous Lauryn Hill cover. "Had to lose myself so I could love you better". Once again the Songtress who does a great deal of writing for others does this song justice.
Your Hands: Two words (Ooh Baby) and Ambrosious seemingly picks up where "Getting Late" left off and gets back to the late night yearning that she began this LP with. When it ends almost abruptly you'll wonder if she's finally received what she longed for.
I Want You To Stay: Another musical stand out written for Michael Jackson just 3 weeks before he passed is both demo and tribute. She casually sneaks in hints of the King of Pop's "Human Nature" and you could only imagine what his voice would have sounded like on this track.
Sour Times: Marsha describes this Portishead cover as "not obvious but it feels so good" & vowed to give the soundtrack classic a soulful twist and succeeds.
Tears: Inspired by a piece of music from the 70's soul & R&B band Rose Royce that had no real melody or lyrics, Marsha took the blank canvas, channeled her old school favorites and gave it a three part harmony that works.
Chasing Clouds: Imagine yourself sucked inside the NeverEnding Story high in the sky riding Falcor. That's what Ambrosius did when she wrote this fun and carefree song.
THE Breakup Song: "It's over" begins this final cut. Simple and understated the piano track is a fitting end to LNEM.
Bonus. Butterflies (Remix): Smart to remind some of us of where the love affair began. Also penned for & perfomred by the late Michael Jackson this song just never gets old.
Late Nights & Early Mornings lives up to its name. These are the thoughts and feelings one has between sun set and sun rise. More importantly, it's unapologetic mood music about love, loss, and longing and there's nothing more beautiful than that.
Are you already a fan? If so, what's your favorite track?