Unheard Spokesperson

How’s my day, well the past three days, going so far…? I’ll let my current Facebook post answer that:

screenshot of my Facebook post: bemoaning a twenty-minute conversation on alopecia and the literal politics of black hair, only to be told “But it’s just a hair style.”

** mentally inserts every facepalming gif in existence here **

Of course, the conversation started with the slap heard around the world. I segued away from it being about the men involved and focused on the woman involved that few are talking about. The trials of alopecia for any person, but especially women, and why it’s such a big deal for black women in particular. That naturally lead to the point of the Crown Act and why it’s important, just to be told “But it’s just a hair style” after all of that. Arrggh!

I know I gave her The Look. I imagine my face must have said everything while several generations of great-grandmothers, my grandmothers on both sides and Mommie all reached out from their graves and held back my tongue, as Jesus whispered in the person’s ear um -yeah, that’s a bit not good, turn and go, my child and Lucifer concurred Yo, even I thinks ya betta walk the fuck away from her right now. My jaw still feels some kind of way weird, from the teeth ground so hard in that moment that likely kept me employed as the person made their excuse and hastened away.

Day 30 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

I Knew It!

Last night as I chose on my clothes for today, I pulled out a turtleneck. Despite it officially being spring, by the calendar, I knew it was going to be cold today.

This morning I look at my footwear. Originally, I had selected loafers, I switched to booties. I knew it was going to be cold today.

I look out the window and see the tree branches yield to wind. Soft open knit beret? – Sorry, you’re on the bench. Tightly knit grey toque – suit up! I knew it was going to be cold today.

Last, but hardly least, I pull my red pea coat into service. After all, I knew it was going to be cold today.

Forewarned and armed, I open my front down and head down the stairs. I reach the curb to cross the street. Now away from my building protecting me from it, a gust of wind sneaks around and slams into me. I mean, I’m physically shifted from the ferocity of it. How rude!

So what comes out of my mouth: “Holy f—! I didn’t know it was going to be cold today!”

[A warm thank you to Amy Ellerman for the honor of using my post, Amused and Bemused, in today’s Be Inspired section at Two Writing Teachers.]

Day 29 of 31 – Let’s see how others are chilling in a good way and slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Book Bash the Final Countdown

For the TL;DR crowd who have yet to google, in a nutshell, GISH is a Guinness World Record-setting, several day, international event that empowers players to push their creative boundaries, tackle hilarious challenges, and perform incredible acts of kindness, most from the comforts of their own home. The event features special guests, literary challenges and more. The Book Bash Mini-Hunt! this weekend is thirty-six hours and while more literary oriented, no less wonderfully chaotic.

Because I did not want to leave the house, I chose four out of the nearly 100 challenges to accept. Since I never attempted fumage art before, I did what I thought would be the hardest out and got it of the way first with yesterday’s create a sign protesting the banning of books. I was wrong. The next challenge turned out to be, not so much harder, but a lot more detailed and time consuming. Create a portrait of LeVar from quotes from famous black authors and activists. I have yet to see other artists’ interpretations, but here is my entry:

Levar Burton with the entirety of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
“I Have a Dream” Speech. Click for full size.

I posted my entry to my Instagram account, tagged GISH and thought nothing of it. And then THIS happened… So, imagine my shock of all shocks when I saw the first “Like” on it, and who it was from!

Misha Collins "Likes" my GISH art!
Misha Collins “Likes” my GISH art!

I’m sure this is something curated by his staff and all of us who took up this specific challenge also got a “Like”, but it’s from his official account and it looks so cool on my account.

My third chosen challenge was a breeze. @yung_pueblo posts lovely meditative poetry on Instagram. Write your own poem in his style. Post yours on Instagram:

Because sometimes we need to remember to take a moment to put down our loads, lift up our feet and just chill...
Because sometimes we need to remember to take a moment to put down our loads, lift up our feet and just chill… Click for full size.

Because I like futzing around with photoshop I was volunteered by our team’s captain to do the challenge of taking a screenshot of barren land from Google Maps and overlay a Photoshop image, as if you have carved into the earth. Make it, of a message or drawing that would be seen from space. The message should be a call for help, as if a passing space fleet of benevolent aliens might see and come rescue us from ourselves.

Don't bomb us! Rescue us! We have Girl Scout cookies!

Because even aliens know Girl Scout Cookies are out of this world! (Or maybe they think the cookies are made from actual Girl Scouts. Hmm, maybe I should have checked the “To Serve Man” menu.)

And finally, I did it just because: According to GISH, not everyone knows this, but the first novel ever written and the world’s first science-fiction novel were both penned by women authors. In honor of these literary trailblazers, show us Frankenstein’s monster reading a copy of The Tale of Genji.

A modern-day Frankenstein's creature listen's to tunes while reading the ultimate classic.
A modern-day Frankenstein’s creature listen’s to tunes while reading the ultimate classic. Click for full size.

Yes, Creach -what? he was never given a name- is wearing earbuds and listening to “Monster Mash”, don’t judge his musical choices!

Still, as much fun as it was, it was a lot of hours on my computer without break. At 8pm, I called it quits. All I know is, if this was a mini one, I’m part excited, part terrified to experience a full one.

Day 28 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Book Bash the First 24 Hours

Logo for Gish Book Bash March 26-27, 2022

To give you just a tiny piece of how Book Bash works here’s a what I thought would be an easy challenge to try:

“It was a pleasure to burn.” Using pyrography or fumage, create a sign proOtesting book bans and censorship.

Fumage you say? Having never done it before, my (not-so) inner pyromaniac and artist vibe were both sparked to say the least.

Book Bash is a mini GISH, so I only have thirty-six hours. The very first step was to remind myself I’m using unfamiliar techniques. I won’t have time to dedicate to just one challenge for corrections or perfection. It’s not going to look exactly like I envision it in my head, but I can do this. Okay, pep talk over, let’s get some fire going!

Ray Bradbury was right. “It was a pleasure to burn.”

What books shall I choose? I wanted a mix of classic and current books that have been banned and these quickly came to mind.

Photo of covers of some of the many books that have been banned.

Let’s see: glue, scissors, paint and a fresh reminder to tell the Virgo in me to zip it(!), and the here’s end result:

Art protesting the banning of books. quote: Pay attention to the books people try to ban then go read them. Find out for yourself why those people want it banned. Then decide for yourself, can they be trusted to know what's best for you.

I may yet do this over when I have oodles more time to block text, properly arrange the “logs” and about fifteen other things I am internally screaming about, but here it is.

And this is just ONE challenge my team and I completed. 24 hours down, 12 more to go.

Stay tuned…

Day 27 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Book Bash

Logo for Gish Book Bash March 26-27, 2022

It’s Book Bash! No, I’m not destroying or talking bad about books. At least I hope not!

Gish Book Bash, a virtual scavenger hunt that is part silliness, part art, part kindness and 100% fun, for readers & writers is hosted by actress/author Felicia Day and Misha Collins (yes, Supernatural fans THAT Misha Collins). IBook Bash is a breath of fresh Eyre for writers and readers around the world.

A portion of all GISH Book Bash registrations will help feed Ukrainian refugees through World Central Kitchen, a non-profit currently on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries. They are preparing for this to be one of their largest relief efforts to date, and they will continue to adapt as they scale up to serve more meals to families in need each day.

I joined a team of fellow book weirdos who will soon Get lit! and take on creative and kind challenges designed to help write a new chapter of fun in our lives. So that’s the post for today for I will be sorta busy for about thirty-six hours.

Day 26 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Thug Life

The subway was being extra subway this morning and long story-short La Raivenne emerged like a phoenix from the bowels of the train some thirty minutes later than my usual. All in all, per usual in such situations, conversation -aka gripes about transit- was struck with fellow passengers and despite the annoying delay, it was a pleasant ride; I was in good spirits. We had a chuckle when I joked that I was going to tell the motorman to drive like he stole drug money and had both the Bloods and The Crips on his tail, “but safely for us riders, of course“. I was accused of being thug because I mentioned infamous West Coast gangs. I jokingly retorted with my classic “I’m crazy, not stupid“. I don’t know what young blood on the train might be affiliated with an East Coast gang, I wasn’t risking calling one out.

I may have been kidding about the motorman, but apparently the motorman was not because the train then hauled arse in attempt to get something akin to back on schedule. I was only a few minutes late by the clock when I reached my station. At this point I was in for a pence-in for a pound, so an additional few minutes to treat myself to my usual TGIF Starbucks was not going to make that big of a difference. Because I have ordering down to a science, I had already pull out my phone and placed my mobile order for Starbucks before I reached street level.

It’s Friday, I’ve got tunes from my iPod in one ear accompanying me and I’m striding along to my personal soundtrack. I see a gentlemen coming from the opposite direction and we nearly collide choosing to pass on the same side of a street lamp at the last second. I smoothly circle around, barely missing a beat with the music. I hear “Daaayum, g’won witcha thug strut now woman!” in a lyrical masculine Caribbean accent behind me and know it is the man I just passed who was apparently watching me.

It’s not the first time I’ve been told I walk like a thug. I walk hard. I strut. I know this. My sons even mock me on it. Now that spring has warmed up the temps a bit, my cold weather arthritis has eased, and I’m not labored down in heavy winter clothes, my normal catwalk stride was emerging again. I grin to myself, give a little wiggle in acknowledgement of having heard him, but I keep going not inviting further conversation, priorities, I’ve got coffee waiting.

At last I walk into Starbucks. I’m some forty-something minutes past the time I usually enter, so there are more people on shift behind the counter. Lina sees me enter and waves. “Hey Raivenne! I’ve got your food here, your drink is…”

Before she can finish a familiar locced head lifts from behind the espresso maker and I grin. I have not seen Jaymes but once since my return to office and that was back in autumn. We always had bad jokes for each other and it was as though no Covid time had passed seeing each other as we pick right up.

RAIVENNE! I thought you were dead!”

Because I am still plugged into my iPod, it was serendipitous timing that had me right at the chorus of a song, so I sing it. “You cannot kill what doesn’t die!”

Jaymes blinks at me as he finishes an order. I realize he is likely just over a third of my age. The song is not likely in his iTunes, but I am pretty sure he recognizes it. However another customer clearly knows it and picks right up behind me. “Live up to my promise, my full potential realized!”

As the guy and I high-five in musical comradery, I can see when Jaymes makes the connection. “Woman, I know you haven’t had your coffee yet because I’m making it! It’s barely eight in the morning; how are you thrashing to Anthrax?”

“What can I tell you Jaymes? It’s Friday: today, I choose violence.” I say ominously.

He laughs handing me my coffee.”If Death lives in your pocket, please keep him there.”

I grin at the reference to the song lyrics, I was right he did know the song. Still, while I leave murder to crows, I am a Raivenne.

I wink, take my coffee and turn to leave, “Jaymes, you’ve met me. You sure Death is a he?”

As I reach the door I hear the customer who had joined me in singing Anthrax say, “Damn she lit!”

“No, she’s thug!” Lina, who had been passing food orders to customers, laughs.

That’s three thug references to me within an hour’s span. I’m not choosing the thug life, the thug life is choosing me today.

We’ll see how the rest of the day thugs out …

Day 25 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

On The Fly

Since I got the tiny little travel bug (think Mothra), I try to wake up somewhere that is not New York City on my birthday. This is the time of year I start thinking what am I going to do and where am I going to go. It could be a Bed and Breakfast in New England, a villa in Italy, a casa in Cuba, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, a hotel in New Orleans. As I said, anywhere but in my apartment. Sometimes depending on where else I might have gone that year, I may not have a choice -aka the money- except be home, such as the year I did Dubai in January and Cuba in July. There was nothing left to disappear come September, yet worth it for those two experiences. Also note, my best friend and I share the same birthday, one year apart, so she’s with me for much of this. Then Covid struck and the choice of do I stay or do I go (I know some of you sang that), was taken from all of us

By September 2020 local restaurants that had open air seating had become a thing, so at least Bestie and I were able to celebrate out of the apartment with another fiend – er – friend. However, by September 2021, I had not been on a out of the City in a year, or on a plane even longer and it showed. I was not risking international, yet so we compromised with a quick jaunt to Las Vegas for a few days. It was just what the doctor and the wanderlust within me ordered. But that was then….

I would fully blame this on having just renewed my Global Entry, but it’s also March. Specifically, it’s past March 19th, it is halfway to my birthday. My passport has not received a new stamp in three years. It’s NOT happy and that travel Mothra is pounding on my door HARD.

I have friends who have begun travelling internationally again, including a known hypochondriac, and following all the protocols, they have been fine. I do have a trip to London, planned for summer 2023, and maybe Japan, oh, but what to do for this year?

  • Local? – as in the on the East Coast.
  • Not so local? – as in the Mid or West Coast.
  • Perhaps international? – as in I still have three continents to conquer.

Decisions… Decisions…Decisions…

Anybody up for a visit from a Raivenne?

Day 23 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

Slice of Life 15th Annual Story Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

The Anatomy of a Challenge

Over a dVerse ~Poets Pub, Sarah, the host for the challenge, prompts to choose one of the below paint names and use it as the inspiration for a poem:

Trumpet, Tea with Florence, Chemise, Confetti, Goblin,
Mirror, Rolling fog, First light, Hidey hole, Masquerade

We are further challenged to incorporate as many of the words as we can and to have fun. While I can post to my blog at any time, the challenge is only open for two days.

As I responded: Oh, that was said to the wrong person. It is my natural wont when see a list of options with a prompt to select one to try to use them all. 

In other words – thanks for giving me free rein to do what I was likely to do anyway. 😁 And because I am a glutton for punishment, I’m thinking a free verse poem would be easier for this but noooooooo, Muse is all Oooh, look! Sarah posted an extract from Christina Rosetti’s “Goblin Market”, let’s do a glosa! I’m thinking, okay, a tradition glosa works for this, gives me up to forty lines to work all that in. Crap! What did I think that for? Forty lines? Pfft! That’s too many – you can do this in just twenty, c’mon, Rai!

I swear, I can’t with them sometimes – except clearly I can, so I don’t even bother arguing – a shortened glosa it is – I pick two lines to work with:

They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather
Goblin Market – Christina Rosetti

My next challenge: hidey-hole – what am I supposed to do with that? Hmm, grey shades of rolling fog at first light came to mind. For some reason I am minded of latter stages of butterfly chrysalis which are more beige than gray, but it stuck. Ah! chrysalis = hidey hole, butterfly – monarch. A visual of a monarch butterfly flittering among purple heather appears and three lines quickly emerge:

Among the violet hued heather
As she emerge from her hidey-hole
In ochre gown mirrored in trim of coal

Excellent, two items from the list are scratched off and I have part of the required rhyme for the endling line. Oh, apparently this butterfly is a female – okay.

Next thing to tackle: Goblin. How do I work that bad boy in? Ah, bad boy! Goblin’s has scared the butterfly, threatened her if she comes out. That helminth! Hmm, worm… And my opening lines appear:

Swaddled in the rolling fog
his ragged chemise color of bog
The goblin worm had filled her with fright
Dare she show upon first light

Scratch four more from the list! I go back and forth like this, until I I’m satisfied. I have met the requirements for a glosa and worked in nine of the ten phrases. What’s the hold out? Tea with Florence. Now ‘tea in Florence’ would have inspired an Italian slant, but it’s with Florence, something different. While I had thought of a couple of lines rhyming Florence, it would break the glosa form and I did not want to do that. I go back and read the requirements for the challenge and am reminded that the choices given can also be used for the title. And problem solved, the monarch has a name, and the poem has a title! Let’s meet:

Tea with Florence the Monarch

It’s not highbrow, not winning any awards. I’m just having fun telling a story in verse. It’s not bad for an hour and change worth of work.

Day 22 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Good As Hell

While a passport is for ten years, Global Entry is five years. My Global Entry expired a year or so before Covid hit the world. At some point before that, under the rule of Trump, New York State got into a beef with the president over verbiage of a new rule that the state dared to disagree with. Long story-short, the entire state was put on punishment. I could not renew my Global Entry. I wanted to cry the first time I had to stand in the long lines of custom again, so I sighed and (im)patiently waited for the governmental pissing contest to end.

A few months ago, now under a new president and new governor – on a whim, I decided to try to reapply again. The good news: Success! New York State has been let out of the time out corner and my application to renew was accepted. The bad news: it was a five month wait between the day I submitted my renewal and my in person interview was scheduled. So last night, I looked at my list and checked it thrice. I wanted nothing on my end to be a factor of it not being renewed.

The location I chose for the renewal is very secure. I knew this. Getting into the building was a process, getting to floor was another process, getting into the office was yet another. It’s designed to intimidate and does a damn good job of it if you don’t already work in a government office. I do. Some people do not comprehend the meaning of remove all metal items from your pockets, some choose not to. I already knew I was going to be dealing with the latter as stood in queue to enter.

Similar to when I go to the airport, other than my rings and my phone, all my metal accoutrements stay in my purse long enough for me to get through the check point. I put them on once I am past the metal detectors. At least we did not have to take off our shoes here. The woman in front of me was different. She had on metal. Statement necklace and rings. Chain hanging from her jeans. Piercings. Even her sneakers were studded. I inwardly sigh.

She steps up to the metal detector and naturally sets it off. Security makes her back up and start removing gear. But it was the non metal thing she wore that caught my eye.

“Excuse me?” I attempt to garner her attention without touching her. “Miss?”

If there is one thing I know about my voice, it is that it carries. I make an effort to moderate its natural tendency to whisper like a foghorn. So I know I am heard. She’s either ignoring me or, as her second attempt also sets the sensors off, she’s annoyed. I try again, I’m blatantly ignored with a huff and eyeroll. Fine. As she removes more metal, security sees me waiting and signals for me to come around.

Miss Metal steps to block my path. “Where you going Lizzo wanna-be? Don’t skip!”

Excuse me?

For those who may not know, Lizzo is as an African-American singer, rapper, songwriter and flutist. Lizzo also happens to be plus-sized. I wish I had half of the performer’s talent, but I know that is not how her name is being used in this context with me a plus-sized African-American woman who has literally said exactly five words to her total. Hardly enough for her to gauge any singing talent I may have (for the record I don’t have any singing talent – but not the point here).

I’m not offended by the comparison. I am offended by the comparison as means of insult from a possibly recalcitrant, definitely ignorant, woman half my size and severely melanin challenged. That’s me being polite for stupid skinny pasty white chick with an attitude. It’s early Monday morning, people, I haven’t had coffee yet – don’t mess with me.

Before I can say anything, the security guard who signaled me does.

“If that Lizzo comment was supposed to be an insult you’re wrong. She’s not jumping the line, I called her – you’re wrong. And now that you’ve turned around I do think she was about to tell you about the roller you still have in your hair. She’s trying to do you a favor and you attempted to insult her for nothing – you’re three ways wrong.” he looks past her to me, motioning with his hand, “Harry, grab her bins, willya? You can come this way miss.”

Her face goes red in a way that is part chagrin and part embarrassment as I point out my waiting bins to Harry. Either way it’s lovely to me to watch as she feels around in her hair, finds and removes the roller that she has been running around with this morning. I toss my hair back, look at, blow on, then buff my nails on my blouse as I pass her and then go through the metal detector without a hitch. As I reach my Knight in Shining Polyester -aka, the guard who signaled me- he does a bad job of suppressing his grin as he stage whispers, “I gotta admit, I was hoping you’d do just that.”

“I gotta admit – it felt good as hell to do, thank you!” I reply collecting my belongings and wait to be escorted upstairs for my interview.

Twenty minutes later, the woman -sans nearly all the metal I first saw her in- is just arriving upstairs. Interview over I am leaving the office – in all the jewelry I wasn’t wearing earlier because I knew better, a renewed Global Entry traveler once again.

I could not resist it, “Yes, I am 100% that bitch.”

I knew by her face she got the message and I just grinned.

For those unfamiliar with Lizzo’s music:

  • my comment as I headed out was from Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”.
    I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch
  • my actions as I passed Miss Metal the first time were the opening lines to Lizzo’s song “Good As Hell”. The security guard, clearly familiar with the music, recognized my subtler interpretation

I do my hair toss
Check my nails

Baby how you feelin’?
Feeling good as hell

Day 21 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Sounds Springing in the City

I am sitting at a table near an open window at a tapas place. I’m waiting for my dinner companion to return from the bathroom that I know is in the room, in the back, at the bottom of the stairs, in the bowels of the café. It’s a spring day that actually feels like a real spring NYC day. Not that hint of March lion where, just watch, tomorrow will be 20 degrees again just ’cause. No, it’s that warmish spring air that tells you it’s going to stick around.

I hear a cacophony of sounds on the sidewalk and street in front of me. It’s the usual discordant din that is not quite the white noise of living in a big city.

Sirens from ambulances and police cars speeding by assault my serenity as I nurse my large cup of black coffee. Buses and trolleys rumble by. Motorcycles and motor scooters, too.

There’s a group of teenage boys loudly playing rap music and performing what I assume to be some sort of rhythmical dance moves as a small crowd of onlookers gathers around them. Across the street a woman walking down the street spews random profanity at passers-by of her spot in the middle of the sidewalk.

I look up between the tall buildings to the sound of a passenger jet overhead, only to be distracted by the voice of the homeless man asking those who sat at the outdoor tables for any spare change. Some give, some don’t.

Down the block in the other directions the sounds of a musician playing acoustic guitar, accompanied by someone drumming on a large plastic pail turned upside down, wafts toward me. It’s not unpleasant.

Around me I hear the many conversations of the other diners that blur into its own white noise as well the ambient music playing in the restaurant itself.

I find myself smiling at everything and nothing.

My dinner companion returns and a velvet baritone breaks through my pensive listening. “You all right, Rai?”

And on this first day of spring in New York City, listening to the sounds around me, for the first time in a long time I realize something…

“Yes, I am.”

Day 20 of 31 –

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers