Friday, April 24, 2009

To Be Young, Gifted, and...Humble be young, gifted, and black/oh, what a lovely precious dream... ~nina simone, "to be young, gifted, and black" (simone/irvine)

of all the versions of "to be young, gifted, and black," donny hathaway's is my favorite, which is not common for me since it's not the original, but i happen to think that musically, donny could do no wrong. so, i'm biased. anyway, i never knew (before looking for an info link to share with the sistergarten) that ms. nina co-wrote the song as a tribute to her dear friend lorainne hansberry. i learn something new every day...but i digress (per usual).

i thought of this song as a result of some things that have been turning over in my mind during the last few weeks. i've been thinking a lot about being humble (or being humbled, by force, which is a totally different animal). over the past 6 months or so, i've been collecting a (virtual) pile of rejection letters from literary agents and publishers who have mostly replied "great work, no thanks" (to paraphrase). and then earlier this week, i got a "no thanks" from a famous poetry retreat for artists of color (who shall remain nameless 'cause i'm a hater at the moment); no "great work" on that one. no feedback at all, actually. at any rate, a series of things (including said rejections) has prompted me to ask myself, "do people just not get it, or am i just not giving what i think i am?" this question, once posed rhetorically aloud, was answered by the fiancé with (after a long lecture)...wait for it, wait for it...a kanye west reference.

for a bit of background, i've had a love/hate relationship with mr. west for years. but to be honest, i've begun to understand him a bit more over the last year or so. and in the midst of this kanye west comparison (as i'm thinking, "did he seriously just compare me to kanye?" and trying to determine if it was an insult or a compliment), i began to identify with 'ye and his larger-than-life ego. i have, as of late, suspected that his ego is the result of many years of having to prove to others that he is as talented as he says he is. and, in fact, he has since conceded this point (check out and search for "ego," as i'm unable to link). so i've decided to use the kanye method and start telling everyone how great i am. how, in fact, i am the best writer and poet of the 21st century...the maya angelou of my generation! okay, so i'm not really going to do that (nor do i think that way), but i do have a newfound respect for him as an artist who's not modest for the sake of politeness. as a naturally modest (and quite shy) person, i would not choose to emulate his model, but i can take a page from it for my internal dialogue.

so, enough about kanye, as i don't even own any of his music (aside from what he has contributed to some of my favorite artists' work, namely john legend [or "homeschool" as i call him] and estelle). my point is that as artists and as people, we have to remind ourselves of the greatness of our contributions, even when others can't/don't/won't recognize it. now, whether or not you choose to rant onstage at an awards show (or on your blog or social networking page) is at your discretion. but at the minimum, rant within. believe that you are as good as you believe you are (yes, i meant that exactly that way). and if you're not, at least you won't know it :).

they say that i won't last too long on broadway. i'll catch a greyhound bus for home, they all say. but they're dead wrong--i know they are. 'cause i can play THIS HERE GUITAR. and i won't quit 'til i'm a star...on broadway... ~george benson, "on broadway" (mann/weil)

Monday, April 20, 2009

In Search of Gardens...

...scared to have kids and do like daddy did/'cause i'm so scared of failin'... ~anthony hamilton, "comin' from where i'm from"

so many black men are afraid to be fathers (or afraid to try to be good fathers) because of the failures of their own fathers. and i'm sure this is true of most men who lack good father figures, but i'm also sure it's more prevalent in the black community, given our history of fatherlessness, tracing back to slavery.

so, i was recently have a conversation on this very topic. and the prevailing question seemed to be: nature or nurture? what makes the difference between 1) men (of any race and/or background) who become bad fathers (or avoid fatherhood) due to fatherlessness and 2) men who become great fathers despite fatherlessness. for the sake of this conversation, "fatherlessness" refers to the occurence of absent fathers as well as seldom-present or emotionally absent fathers. so, is it simply an innate difference in personality and character of the young man (or can personality even be innate)? or is it a matter of the other male influences in his life? or is it a combination of these and any number of other factors?

as i approach marriage and hopefully parenthood, i am giving more thought to what experiences have made me who i am. as alice walker once wrote, "in search of my mother's garden, i found my own." in my life that means that in beginning to understand my mother as a woman (not just as "mama"), i begin to learn a lot about myself as a woman, and actually, vice versa. and to take it a step further, i'm naturally thinking of my future children's gardens and how they will be shaped by my own.

so, as this began as an examination of the effects of fatherlessness on young men, it seems to have come full circle as an examination of the effects of parents on children. what say you, sister(and brother)garteners?

fathers be good to your daughters/daughters will love like you do/girls become lovers who turn into mothers/so mothers be good to your daughters, too... ~john mayer, "daughters"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Goin' to the Chapel (So to Speak) and We're Gonnnna Get Maaaaarried...

i'm getting married. it won't be in a chapel, and it's not until august 2010, but i figured what better way to share the experience and get eclectic suggestions than to occasionally post my planning tidbits here?! also, i wanted an excuse to post my cute little wedding avatar from the knot. there are tons of wedding planning websites, but i chose the knot because the site is user-friendly, and users are able to browse wedding gowns, vendors, flowers, and anything else you might need for the big day, and save them as favorites to review later. the knot also has a tool for budgeting, which is great for someone (like me) who has no clue what certain things should cost. there is also a to-do list tool, which helps users know what items should be taken care of on a monthly basis, counting down to the big day. okay, enough free advertising, lol.

i describe myself as an unconventional bride with classic sensibilities. i'm a big believer in doing things the way i want to, even if "tradition" would have it otherwise. but i also like classic touches of simple elegance (that's my mother in me). so, while i'll likely forgo floral decorations for tons of candles, i do want a modest, simple dress (though it won't be white). and i intend to not let the planning get stressful. that's the plan, people.

oh, and i'm simultaneously a bridesmaid in two of my brideswomen's weddings in the meantime. let the ride begin...

be. fly.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rare Blood, Indeed: A Libations Preview

here is the first of a series of previews from Libations Vol. 1: Black Artists Who Died Young. it's a tribute to j dilla, entitled "dilla, jd."

Dilla, JD

J. Dilla
Jay Dee
J… D…
Juris Doctor=
Doctor of Jurisprudence=
Doctor…of Law
J. Dilla knew the laws of hip-hop
And he knew the laws of soul
And he had jurisdiction in both worlds
‘Cause he had passed the bar,
Earning creative license like no other
Like no other, he passed the bar…
That most people say he set
And raised
And passed again…

J… D…
The authority to speak
For a nation’s generation
Of the reincarnation of soul
He spoke to our souls
Through hisses and pops
And conscious hip-hop…
He fed us new classics
And our souls
Joyfully Digested them
Like Donuts for a sweet tooth,
Like Water for Chocolate,

J… D…
Jewel of Detroit
1974’s gift to the future
Not just a producer,
But an essence
Musician, writer
MC, fighter—
For good music and truth,
You know—things that really matter—
An essence
Leaving deep, permanent grooves
On family, fans, and peers
An essence
Pure and humble
Mystical yet real
Rare blood, indeed
And he took the formula
To his tear-soaked grave

J… D…
Journeyed Diligently
For his passion
He loved it,
And he lived it,
Inspiring even the unsuspecting,
Resurrecting relevance
In an almost breathless hip-hop
Leaving his impression on Forever.

rhythm (c) 2008

Friday, April 10, 2009

The End of The Rawvolution

today would be day 5, but a cooked meal is gon' come. i've decided to end my raw adventure 2 days early. the primary reasons are that i don't feel well enough to go to the gym (something i try to do at least 4-5 days a week), i don't feel like i'm getting enough nutrients, and i don't have nearly as much energy as i expected to have. i have much less than i usually do. i also have yet to see any cleansing benefits, unless you count this semi-pimple on my cheek. granted, i'm sure this lifestyle takes more than a week to get used to, but 6 days was all i had alotted for the entire process, so anything i hadn't acomplished in 4 days, i doubt would come in the remaining 2. so i realized that i had, indeed, gained what i had wanted from the process. and had i continued to the initial finish line, it would have simply been deprivation at that point; it would no longer be about me. it would be an effort to do 6 days just because i had said i would and to avoid telling everyone, sistergarteners included, that i had quit.

so i'm leaving this part of the venture. i'll take a lot of what i learned and incorporate it into my daily lifestyle. for starters, i'll pay a lot more attention to by body and what it needs. and i'll be a lot more creative about incorporating various fruits and veggies into my diet.

thanks to the girls, the fiancé, and the sistergarteners for your support during this process. and special thanks to tina for all her professional wisdom, suggestions, and recipes.

when i sell a million copies of my next book, i'll be able to afford raw restaurants and raw chefs who know a hell of a lot more about a raw lifestyle than i do. maybe then i can give it a more sophisticated attempt.

for now... my first un-raw meal? i don't know yet, but i'm pretty sure it involves bread. goodness, i miss bread.

be. fly.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Raw Week 2009: Day 4

it's day 4. what else is there to say?

but seriously, not much is new. banana-spinach smoothie for breakfast/snack. not as sweet as i would like. i also ate a banana because i was a little hungry.

one thing i'm really grateful for during this experience is the fact that it's making me more conscious of what i put in my body. my co-worker offered me some organic "apple" sauce yesterday (or the day before??? they're all blending together at this point). it was actually made of various berries, none of which were apples, lol. there were no preservatives, so i actually got excited for a moment. then i saw the added sugar. that's a no-no. i would have never paid attention to that before. i do check the ingredients on most of the items i purchase, but it's mostly for meat fat or meat stock in canned items or flavored rice. i know canned items and flavored rice aren't the healthiest purchases, but i do eat them. a lot. and i want to make sure i'm not eating chicken fat. if i want to eat chicken fat, i want to at least have some chicken with it. and i rarely eat chicken so...but i point is that this process is making me pay better attention to what i eat. and i'm sure this will carry over when i go back to eating cooked food and dairy. i would kill for some rice pilaf right about now.

12:23 pm: i've determined that not only does vinegar stink, but i also don't care much for the taste. since i didn't eat my salad yesterday for lunch or dinner, i attempted it for lunch today. since i actually tasted the dressing after i made it (and it was okay), i'm assuming the flavor has gotten stronger as it's been sitting in the container. raw lesson #246: eat it when you make it. so now i'm munching on celery, carrots, and the broccoli and cucumbers from said salad (with no dip). is this over yet?

speaking of which, i'm giving serious consideration to ending this venture early. the fiancé is encouraging me to stick with it. i think it's because he's responsible for dinner on the weekends. he says it's because he wants me to stick to the goal i set. as i'm not a quitter, i don't really feel bad about quitting. is that my biscuit craving talking?

tenisha says: you've gotten what you wanted, to be more aware of what you put in your body. *round of applause*

maybe i can turn this into a venture of learning how to quit without guilt. then i can incorporate THAT into my lifestyle. i'm a genius.

i'll keep you posted, sistergarteners.

be. fly.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We Pour Libations

for the past year and a half or so, i've been working on a very special project with an awesome artist by the name of willis nomo (google the man). he's an amazing painter, graphic designer, muralist, and [insert art form here; i bet he can do it]. when i first saw his work, i knew he would be perfect for the vision i had for this project. he, on the other hand, needed a little convincing. but ever since he's been on board, we've been creating beautiful things together. the major project is Libations Vol. 1: Black Artists Who Died Young, a collection of poetry and paintings dedicated to artists including marvin gaye, billie holiday, phyllis hyman, and tupac shakur.
a promo poster with an excerpt from Libations:
i can't wait to release this book. i'm still working on getting an agent or publisher to support our efforts, but if we must self-publish, i'm prepared to go that route (again). so send plenty of good vibes, prayers, and omens our way (feel free to include agent/publisher-friends' info with those as well).
if you're in the philadelphia area (or will be on april 17th), check us out at the gallerie isada (3320 collins street, philadelphia, pa) for "elevator: uplifting the masses," a multi-media event featuring the paintings of willis nomo, the sounds of hezekiah, and the poetry of yours truly. it's just $10 with an rsvp, and who knows...there may even be some live art...definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. 4-17-09 8pm.
be. fly.

Raw Week 2009: Day 3 (Vinegar Stinks)

the girls and i are starting to become concerned that we're not hungry enough. speaking for myself, i feel fine. i actually feel great at moments, but i just KNOW i need to be eating more. however, it's very difficult for me to eat when i'm not hungry (unless, of course, i'm just being greedy or emotionally eating). so i guess i should say it's difficult for me to eat simply for nutrition when i'm not hungry. at any rate, i'm going to make an effort to eat more today. i certainly don't want to make this an unhealthy venture.

oh, and vinegar stinks. as i was making my creamy avocado dressing, guacamole, and berry green smoothie (that's kinda's "berry green," lol), the fiancé entered the kitchen and proclaimed "it smells like feet in here." it was the vinegar. and i don't disagree. every time i use it (which i never did before this experiment), i either think of sweaty men (not the sexy kind) or easter eggs. vinegar stinks.

now for some photos of raw creations submitted by the girls:

beverly's cookies with her brand new dehydrator:

ada's delectable raw salad with homemade balsamic vinegarette dressing:

ada's holy guacamole (actually, there are onions in it, which deems it unholy in my eyes, but...) with fresh celery and baby carrots:

my own guac isn't as cute as this, i don't think. so i shan't post it.

1:22pm: email to the girls:
lol. i meant after this, if there is an after, which there will be for me. i, for one, can't WAIT until sunday, which is when i have decided to end this journey. i just tried to eat lunch, and i only felt hungry enough for my snack, so i ate the veggies and guac. i had to force myself to eat at least half. i don't mind not being hungry, but i just feel like i can't be getting enough nutrients because i'm hardly eating anything.

i'm sure this is about control, as i like having it (control, that is). day 2 was great. day 3 started out great. let's see what i think about it by the evening. ugh.

8:56pm still grazing. about to attempt to eat at least part of the salad i made for lunch.

ada's strawberry banana pineapple orange smoothie:

10:43pm: ate some grapes. drank some water. resisted a packaged pasta side dish i made for the fiancé. i'm wasting SO much food.

see ya on day 4, sistergarteners.

be. fly.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Raw Week 2009: Day 2

yesterday was rough. i went plum crazy at the end of the night. i don't remember very much of it, other than the fiancé beginning to lose patience; he tends to encourage sleep when i'm tap-dancing on his nerves. he was eating a grilled turkey and cheddar sandwich, and i just wanted to SMELL it. i don't even eat turkey! i was desperate. but let me be clear about why i was so hungry. i couldn't decide on what to eat. every time i chose something, i had one bite and was done with it. this could become a very expensive practice, so i just stopped eating. i realize i need to be more creative in order to satisfy my hunger (and get enough nutrients and calories to survive this week). i can't figure out if this is just grazing, or if i'm just mentally dissatsfied with my food options.

so, in the midst of my mania, i decided to make raw peanut butter. i don't have a spectacular food processor (it's just okay), so i started to panic when the peanut mixture stopped mixing. fortunately, this is when the fiancé came home and intervened. while he's nobody's chef (i was shocked he even made his own grilled turkey sandwich, which i'm sure he only did to save me the torture of making it for him), he stepped right in, added some water (i had only used raw peanuts, honey, sea salt, and olive oil based on varying recipes from the internet), and saved my peanut debacle. i had him stop blending before it was anywhere near smooth, for fear that my food processor was going to explode. i can't determine whether that was a rational thought or if it was just my crazies talking. at any rate, the result was a slightly crunchy, sweet and salty blend that was yummy on a celery stalk. of course, as with everything else last night, i was done with it after one bite. i refrigerated it, hoping it will make a good snack tonight. shout out to my boo :).

needless to say, the crazies didn't allow me to prepare today's lunch last night. so it was snatch and grab, raw diet style. i made my green smoothie (banana, strawberries, spinach, and water) and grabbed a banana, some green grapes, some strawberries, and a plum. i still had a bottle of water and a couple of boxes of raisins in my office desk.

i've heard from several raw foodists that the first 2 days are the hardest. well, on top of that, my first day was a long work day, and day 2 began with an office meeting with coffee, bagels, and donuts. now, as much as i love donuts, i usually don't eat them at these meetings for fear that i might devour the entire spread all by my lonesome (donuts are one of the few sweets i'm weak for). but, i do usually grab a bagel with cream cheese. and today i literally fantasized about scooping the cream cheese container with my finger. i'm still thinking about it, actually. send help.

4:11pm: i wasn't very hungry today. after my smoothie, i only had some water, a banana, and a box of raisins. i should have at least eaten the grapes, but i just wasn't hungry. and i must say, at the risk of being crass, i thought this process would be more cleansing. i can't say that it has been. eh, well. at any rate, i feel great today. my energy is much better than yesterday. aside from the cravings, that is. but i realize the cravings are more about comfort than hunger or deficiency. i'm craving junk food, BREAD, and my sisterfriend's vegetarian chili at the moment.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Raw Week 2009: Day 1

raw week has begun. last night, i packed my lunch and snacks for today (something i rarely do that far in advance; i usually throw something together or grab a frozen vegetarian breakfast and lunch on my way out the door in the morning). for today, i prepared a salad for lunch (spinach, diced grape tomatoes and carrots, sliced cucumbers, and homemade balsamic vinegarette dressing: 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, 1/2 c. olive oil, optional basil and sea salt). i tasted the dressing, and it was pretty yum for my first stab at homemade dressing. i guess it's supposed to be, considering it only has 4 ingredients, which are whisked, not blended. but i digress. for snacks, i packed some green grapes, one celery stalk (sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into thirds), and a 6-pack of sun-dried raisins i split between my purse and my food drawer (yeah, i said it) at work in case of a snack attack.

my produce section (check out g. garvin in the
back, who will be getting NO LOVE this week):

so, this morning, all i had to prepare was my green smoothie. i had planned on using some super-ripe bananas i had in order to use them before they went bad. i was too late. and the bananas i just bought from the farmers' market aren't ripe enough yet, so i had to freestyle. i made the apple-kale combination (1 apple, 1 1/2 kale leaves, juice from 1/4 of a lemon, 1 c. water). the original recipe yields about 3-4 servings, so again, i was improvising. all in all, it turned out pretty tasty. granted, i'm chewing some of it, so i'll surely focus more energy on the BLEND aspect for tomorrow's smoothie. but it tastes good, and i feel healthy and satisfied. i'll check in throughout the day, and the girls (and boy; a brothergartener has joined raw week) may check in with their own updates. feel free to join us! you know you want to...

11:59am: check out beverly's produce shot. she even picked up a food dehydrator:

2:25pm: i had a 1pm dentist appointment, so to avoid showing up with raisins in my teeth, i didn't have a snack. talk about starving! i was SO hungry when i got back to work. i sprinkled some raisins on my beautiful salad, and it was deeeeeeeeeelish. and it just hit me...i don't know what's for dinner.

8:03pm: i'm exhausted. my day was so hectic that i have no way of knowing whether i'm drained because of raw week or because of all the running around i had to do.

perhaps this ordeal would be better illustrated on twitter, as by the time i got home to blog, i had been through a million different emotions surrounding this process. i experienced about an hour of CRAZY TIME in which i nodded off during a work-related meeting, almost had an internal melt-down about what i was going to prepare for dinner, and simultaneously imagined devouring a frozen cheese pizza. this is gonna be an interesting week.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Countdown to Raw Week...

friday and saturday, we all did our shopping for what one girlfriend has coined "raw week." once i got over my initial anxiety from the sheer intensity of the cramped local farmers' market, i actually had a good time picking through fresh produce and deciding what i would be eating for the week. i felt all metro-chic.

as a guide, i used a guide from kaia foods with simple raw recipes for beginners. tonight, i'll make creamy avocado dressing/dip for my salad and celery snack tomorrow. my first green smoothie will involve bananas since i have some really ripe ones i purchased before the farmer's market trip. i need to use those ASAP. i'm thinking bananas, strawberries, and kale. yummmmmm.

today for lunch, i had a pb&j with potato chips and light soy milk. i was really craving that. of all the things i might have before i'm restricted to raw food, lol. i haven't yet decided what's for dinner. but i'm gonna make it good.

see you tomorrow, sistergarteners!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Raw Desire

so, i have these girlfriends. we're like the typical friend group of 4 women of varying interests and personalities, only better. think "sex in the city" meets "girfriends" meets "a different world." no, "a different world" didn't focus on a specific group of archetypal women, but we met at a historically black college/university (hbcu), so i take the liberty of throwing that in the mix. and long before social networks started blasting the net with those "which [fill in the show] character are you?" quizzes, we were discussing that very (deep and poignant) topic in our dorm rooms. i'm a little bit carrie bradshaw and a lot lynn searcy. but i digress.

these "girls," as i suspect i will call them when we're in our 90s, are my sisters. i don't need to qualify that at all. they just are. and we tend to try new things together. that leads me to our latest venture: the raw food lifestyle (i'm avoiding the word "diet" because it is indeed more about lifestyle and habit changes rather than some sort of fad diet).

i would link you to info on raw foods, but i haven't yet decided what source, if any, is going to be my end-all, be-all go-to for raw food info. so i'll just recommend that you google "raw food" if you're not familiar. you'll find plenty. essentially, it's the practice of eating raw fruit, vegetables, beans, and nuts in an effort to get the most nutrients out of these foods as possible. the theory is that cooking these foods removes some of the most nutritious aspects of them. this also means processed foods like dairy (and soy?) are excluded. as you see, i'm not an expert. but we're gonna try it. for a week at first, and then maybe longer depending on how well it goes.

we're all participating for varying reasons. i mainly want to open myself to the experience and to participate in a cleanse of sorts. i'm not one for deprivation, but i do enjoy the self-discovery that takes place when i force myself to examine the things i do in auto-pilot. for instance, "why do i eat so much cheese?!?" lol...cheese is great, but i'm sure after a week without it, i'll have a better appreciation for all the things i can eat without it, not to mention how much lighter and healthier i'll feel.

so, sistergarten friends, starting monday, i'll be charting our progress right here in the sistergarten! wish us luck! and feel free to join us or post tips, and past experiences!

be. fly.


Garden Tools...

so, now i have a blog. it's official. i've come up with a theme, a vision, and some ideas. no more excuses, right?

so, welcome to sistergarten. i'll try not to overuse metaphors about kindergarten and gardening, but i am a poet, so i can't make any promises. and if i do, you shouldn't believe them, because my philosophies may change tomorrow.

i envision sistergarten as an interactive space to share, learn, and grow. the space is open to all who enter open and respectfully. that includes the menfolk :). sistergarten is woman-centered, not women-only. and though i innately come from the perspective of a black woman in america, i value and appreciate the experiences of all women and hope to capture that here. as for the men, they contribute to our experiences on myriad levels, so we need to recognize their presence in our gardens (even when they're trampling over the tulips).

so, please feel free to share your views and share this blog with minded friends (they don't have to be like-minded. they just need a decent level of sense about them, lol).

tools needed for this journey: mind, spirit, curiosity, and a decent internet connection.

be. fly.



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