March 17, 2020 at 7:40 PM

Good God Almighty! I haven’t written a stitch in my journal since July of last year, and a whole heck of a lot—hell of a lot might be a better description, because it feels that hell is nigh—a whole hell of a lot has happened since then.

First of all, Kobe Bryant is dead.

Yes, Marley, dead as a doornail. In a helicopter crash that killed nine people total…including his middle daughter, Gianna.  What in the world? Like, why? I’m still asking because I’m STILL getting over that one. 

It STILL hasn’t trickled down to that hardly disturbed gathering spot—the place where facts go once they actually make sense…or that other settled place where we accept that they won’t EVER make sense.

But still. It. Just. Doesn’t.  Maybe it never fully will settle in.

 I was working the editor’s desk at WTOP that Sunday morning, and it was a flurry of an afternoon. Seems like such a distant memory now–barely two months later…because LOTS has happened since.  Including Super Tuesday (I worked the desk that evening, too—Lord—keeping track of all those states and American Samoa was a pleasantly exhilarating chore), Democratic presidential debates, and just life.  I’m still working on my podcast–my free-time labor of love, Planet Noun, and have some pretty good interviews in the can, but now, this heifer named Rona is trying to steal my joy.

Rona’s not its real name.  It’s COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.  It’s been traced back to Wuhan, China and it’s spread the globe, to nearly 200 countries.  Once Wuhan was the epicenter, now Italy is the new epicenter.  So many people have died there, and the death toll in the United States is also climbing. The number of cases in our area keeps rising, and each part of the DMV is reporting deaths. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

I don’t know what else to do, but write out my thoughts so they don’t crowd my mind… and create stuff.

I wrote some darn-silly lyrics for Rona…First time I heard someone call this outbreak The Rona, Bobby Brown’s song Tender Roni immediately came to mind…

SneakyRona

Truth about The Rona 

It’s a sneaky little virus

Don’t treat it right, fight it back don’t hold it tight. 

Only sneaky Ronas can swirl around the world

A special pandemic where symptoms can even hide.

If you believe in health and all that it can do for you 

Buy you some veggies

Buy some fruit tooo-oooo

And if you find that sneaky Rona has crept up on you

Make it official

Go get it a di-ag-noooo-ooo-sis 

Chorus

My lungs…

Tryna stay clear from the Rona

It is not my love 

My lungs staying clear of the Rona

It is not my love

Verse 2

Truth about Rona

It’s always on the move

Don’t matter what you look like-it can come for you…

So stay your hind parts home. 

And cook you some food. 

Netflix and chill and Amazon Prime too

(Just don’t order food)

If you believe in health and all that it can do for you 

Eat you some veggies

Eat some fruit too.

And if you find that sneaky Rona has crept up on you

Make it official

Go get it a di-ag-noooo-ooo-sis 

Chorus

My lungs…

Tryna stay clear from the Rona

It is not my love 

My lungs staying clear of the Rona

It is not my love

Bridge

The truth about Rona—it’s a sneaky skank

Bout as sneaky a skank thats around the way

It makes the toughest homeboys get fever, dry cough. 

Sore throat runny nose or-no-symptoms…

Wash your nassssy hands to keep that Rona out your life. 

 Cover your mouth

Don’t go out in a crowd 

You don’t want the Rona cause the Rona ain’t right…

So getting toilet paper it might save your liiifffffeeee.

Chorus

My lungs…

Tryna stay clear from the Rona

It is not my love 

My lungs staying clear of the Rona

It is not my love. 

(Repeat 2x)

Sometimes foolishness is what saves us (read: me) from anxiety or panic.  And panic and brawling over fibers used to clean hindparts is not what I’m about. But then again, sheer foolishness and selfishness is what leads some to do just that.  Hoard and fight. 

Rona Shopping

Made a Target run yesterday, and found toilet tissue. May make another run tomorrow morning for a few more things.  

Things with this COVID-19 outbreak have totally upended he way we do things…folks staying at home, teleworking, San Francisco on lockdown, part of New Rochelle, New York on lockdown, gatherings of 50 or fewer banned—then that number squeezed down to 10 people or fewer. 

I’m usually glad and content to stay home—but there’s the knowledge that I’ll get to go to the store and get what I need.  

But just like Kobe Bryant’s death fractured the once secure lenses through which folks may have seen life, COVID-19 has tilted us into thinking that we may have to hunker down for a long time…that resources that were constantly stocked on supermarket and big-box shelves may be scarce.  Yes, if everyone buys 80 packs of toilet paper each, yes, things will be scarce.  

To make sure we all have what we need, we must be committed to being good humans and not moved by fear.  And moved to thank our store clerks for their service along with medical teams, servicemen, firefighters, cops—and journalists who help us stay informed.  As a journalist, I’m biased about that last one…But during that Target run, I made sure to tell staff members “Hey, I’m glad you’re here!”

I’m afraid all of this will be our new normal.  Already, I’m longing for the halcyon days when I was getting over a bad breakup…or those days when I worked seven days in a row here and there—and the only thing I had to worry about was being a little tired. 

It’s thrown many of us for a loop. And we’re just trying to navigate and deal, and adjust. It’s the human way.

Where Brooklyn At?

(Where Brooklyn At?)

I always like going to New York City and this time was no different. Alaska Airlines was having a BOGO sale that my friends and I could not let pass. You don’t want to know how much our round trip tickets were…okay I’ll tell you. One hundred and thirty six U.S. ducats! I know, I couldn’t believe it either!! As you can tell I absolutely LOVE a deal (who doesn’t). Stick with me kids!

So this time around we stayed at the McCarren Hotel in Brooklyn. BROOKLYN! Home of the Living Single brownstone and some of my favorite MCs. Big Daddy Kane, Notorious BIG, Lil Kim, Mos Def and Jay Z, just to name a few.

The McCarren is a cute boutique hotel that is super convenient to shops and eateries on Bedford Avenue.

Tasty pastries from Martha’s bakery. The berry napoleon is their specialty and was superb!

While working from my hotel room, I saw on the news that artist Efren Andaluz just finished a mural honoring Kobe Bryant and his daughter GiGi who were 2 of 9 that lost their lives in a helicopter crash on that gloomy Sunday morning of January 26th. This still feels unreal. As a Los Angeles lady, it was my duty to check it out and my friends agreed.

This mural is in Brooklyn, on the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Pacific Street across from the Barclays Center.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant mural in Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue and Pacific Street across from the Barclays Center.

So after we paid homage to our Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, we headed around the corner to BK9

BK9 is a modern caribbean restaurant in Brooklyn with a warm and inviting atmosphere. The perfect place to meet up before or after an event after work for happy hour, brunch or just because.

This place was amazing!

We also got a chance to get out of Brooklyn because one borough can’t hold these chicks down!!

In Harlem we saw the Apollo Theatre and ate at Melba’s. The fried chicken and egg nog waffle with a side of strawberry henessy was delicious! Melba’s is located on 114th Street at Frederick Douglas Blvd and is a great dining option while in Harlem.

Strawberry Henessy at Melba’s

In Manhattan we went to Bryant Park to ride the bumper cars. Because of the weather, they didn’t bring them out. Bummer but we enjoyed some hot cocoa along with the sights and sounds of the city.

Subway life

If you want scenic views of NYC’s skyline, then the Roosevelt Island Tramway is the ticket. You can ride the tram for just the cost of a metrocard ride. Enjoy the views as you enter the station from Manhattan’s upper east side and ride across to Roosevelt Island.

Back to Brooklyn, where I got to see some cool street art. Brooklyn is definitely a vibe and I can’t wait to go back.

What are some of your favorite spots in NYC? Drop me a line.

A few of our stops in Brooklyn:

Astronomy Club aims for the stars, but they’re already there

What does it mean to be black?

To be black in America?

One thing is for sure—it doesn’t automatically mean the exact same thing across any boards. That’s what the new Netflix comedy series, “Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show,” appears to explore through clever comedy vignettes which are stitched together amid a reality show backdrop. They take the reality show format and hijinks and transform them into utter hilarity!

Each sketch is part of the thematic lattice that, as individual segments and as a whole, challenges what it means to be black and, in a not so low-key way,  asserts the oh-so-true notion that black folks in America (and anywhere) are not a monolith. 

The show takes on a range of topics through a comedic lens—from world geography to Ice Cube Day, the lunacy of some olden-day nostalgia, and the oft repeated notion that ‘black don’t crack,’ — until it does. 

There’s even a nod to a Mary Poppins who’s looking for a nanny job with a wealthy black family…and another nod to an original Twilight Zone episode–that one where a man was in a tizzy on a flight during a bad thunderstorm because every time he glanced out the window, he saw a demon on the wing…But the Astronomy Club puts a chocolate twist and some stank on it—and a little booty poppin’, too.

Each episode is roughly 20 minutes long, so the six-episode season is bingeable without decimating weekend or even weeknight plans. 

Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show was launched on December 6, 2019, and is executive produced by Kenya Barris—the creator of the hit ABC show ‘Blackish.’

The Astronomy Club is an improv sketch comedy group that was founded in 2014. Its members are Shawtane Bowen, Jon Braylock, Raymond Cordova, Caroline Martin, Jerah Milligan, Monique Moses, James III & Keisha Zollar. Read more about them on the Astronomy Club website.

Helper’s heart + determination w/ Deia Davis-Williams of ExquisteM PR

Life can abound with various challenges, but it’s up to us to take that stuff and make it into something better.

There are some folks in this universe who, despite challenges, imagine how they’d like life to look. Then they plan and move boldly in the direction of those dreams.

My next guest is one of those beautiful humans.

Deia Davis-Williams and I go way back to college. We’ve been connected on social media, but and saw each other in person for the first time in YEARS in New Orleans as Essence Fest was wrapping up. It was the first time at Essence Fest for either of us. Shoutout to Essence for such an awesome, affirming event!

Deia is a publicist…and founder of ExquisteM Public Relations. She’s also in law school and is very specific about her goals and the impact she wants to have in the African-American community.

Take a listen to this driven sister’s story…On Planet Noun.

00:00—Deia’s organic road to becoming a publicist.

04:35—The role family plays in the ExquisteM brand

10:20—How she knows the law path is right for her and for giving back to her community

38:15—So who are some of her clients? You know I TRIED to find out…

39:02—How Deia rolls when she walks into a room when there aren’t many people like her present

Read more at https://planetnoun.com

Learn more about Deia—on social media:

Instagram

On IG you can follow her hashtag #exquistlyhandled

And connect via Facebook

Thanks for listening to this episode featuring Deia Davis-Williams of public relations firm ExquisteM! Quite a few nuggets to remember in each episode… A key from this one to remember: Set clear goals, and if you want to reach them, figure out a way do so with persistence, honest hard work and integrity.


Episode 23: Single, childless aunties—a family staple

It’s always exciting when a new episode drops…this one is no exception.  It’s the second of two collaboration episodes with Liliana and Tamara of Barely Bougie Mamas—a podcast that was released during the summer.

If you haven’t heard last week’s episode, take a listen after you get through with this one.  

So Barely Bougie Mamas is a podcast featuring Liliana and Tamara—two moms who grew up in poverty—but have crafted lives for themselves and their kids that are totally different from their own upbringings…and all of the funnies and concerns that stem from those differences. 

My sister Lea and I joined them at Liliana’s home in Southern California for some kiki-ing and questions.  

Last week, we talked about some of their experiences growing up vs. how their kids are growing up.  

And this week, Liliana, Tamara, My sister Lea and I talk about something Le-Le and I know…being single, childless aunties….And the role all aunties play in the family fabric. Whether they’re linked by bloodlines or play aunties that are for real-real with their care, concern and involvement. 

So let’s get to it with the Barely Bougie Mamas and Planet Noun: 

Topics and timecodes:

03:13—Dealing with annoying comments like “You’re not married? You don’t have kids? And you’re HAPPY?” (Answer: Hell to the yes! Contented, single and childless women do exist, they’re real people) 

08:55—Aunties to O.P.K.-Other People’s Kids

10:19—The Sister-in-Law Co-Parent (Tamara says don’t skip your visitations) & the Auntie Posse 

14:15—Unmarried Aunties, do you realize your importance (and not just for babysitting)?

17:30—Liliana’s experience as a single, childless auntie 

21:28—The fun auntie

24:10—Deadbeat godmamas 

29:32—An auntie’s listening ear

35:05—Forging the relationship with a potential auntie in your life

If this is the first time you’ve heard of them, they have several episodes already released…12 of them…13 including this one. 

Listen to Barely Bougie Mamas on Anchor FM.

They’re also on Apple Podcasts.

And Spotify

Find them on Instagram

And Auntie Lea, my special guest on Instagram.


Episode 22: A chat (& many laughs) with Barely Bougie Mamas

I’m always excited when a new episode comes out…this one is no exception.  It’s one of two back-to-back collaboration episodes we’re dropping today and next Thursday. Planet Noun’s first collaboration ever—and it’s with Liliana and Tamara of Barely Bougie Mamas—a podcast that was released during the summer.. 

A capsule-sized explanation of their show—it’s about two moms who grew up in poverty—but have crafted lives for themselves and their kids that are totally different from their own upbringings…and all of the funnies and concerns that stem from those differences. 

My sister Lea and I joined them at Liliana’s home in Southern California for some ki-ki-ing and questions.  

A little background…Tamara and I met the afternoon this was recorded…But she’s listened to some Planet Noun episodes, and I’ve listened to Barely Bougie Mamas shows. 

Liliana and I grew up together. My sis and I have known her for years.  Matter of fact, we go so far back, I don’t remember WHEN we met.  My mom says it was at church when we were wee children who were sat in the class for babies, toddlers and under fivers. We used to sit next to each other and suck our thumbs, mom said.

That’s enough intro!  There’s cussing in this episode. You’ve been warned…now listen in! 

1:32 — How Tamara and Liliana met, then  learned they had things in common

20:22—Dealing with bullies

21:03—Snitching then and now

30:09—Street sense

41:55—Whose kids are more bougie?  Tear-jerking experiences with their children

51:13—What to expect from Barely Bougie Mamas podcast

If this is the first time you’ve heard of them, they have several episodes already released…12 of them…13 including this one. 

Listen to Liliana and Tamara, the Barely Bougie Mamas, on Anchor FM

They’re also on Apple Podcasts

And Spotify

Find them on Instagram

Ghosted? Mourn @ a Funeral with author Lenina Mortimer

Sometimes romantic relationships SUCK.
Especially when they run off the rails…whether it be from growing differences between relatants or if someone just up and decides they don’t want you anymore, but they don’t bother to tell you about it.

Basically—when someone ghosts you.

Today’s guest experienced ghosting…she was the ghostee—if you will. Old boy turned her loose, but didn’t verbally communicate that to her—and wouldn’t communicate with her as she tried to get to the bottom of things.

So Lenina Mortimer wrote a book about it—to help someone else along the ghastly breakup recovery path.

Take a listen to Lenina Mortimer, author of the book “I Ain’t Thinking About You…The 8 Step Guide to Finally Letting Him Go Using the Breakup Funeral Method.”

Let’s get this mourning in motion…On Planet Noun.

1:50—Getting the un-holy ghost(ting)

3:09—Discovering the root of dysfunctional relationships

6:24—Creating the Breakup Funeral

14:51—Timing: When is it best to hold a breakup funeral?

19:20—Why separation is healthy after a breakup/Why the Breakup Funeral is a communal experience

25:54—Running into the ghosted

30:09—A love letter to black women

35:32—Self-care is crucial to breakup recovery

38:50—Steering clear of breakup traps

41:31—To forgive or not to forgive?  And when? 

Get your e-book copy

Find out more about Lenina Mortimer and her work! Let’s start with a link to her e-book “I Ain’t Thinking About You…The 8 Step Guide to Finally Letting Him Go Using the Breakup Funeral Method.”

Lenina’s also on social media. You can learn more about her coaching services there.
Facebook
Instagram

And one thing she mentioned during the show—the Via Character Strengths Survey. Listen to learn how and why she uses this survey in her work.


QFBR: Trail Of Echoes by Rachel Howzell Hall

There’s a neighborhood in the dusty corners of the ‘hood, not terribly far from where the rich people live, where too many young teen girls have gone missing lately.

Then it happens—again.

This time, it’s 13-year-old Chanita Lords who has vanished from a neighborhood in Los Angeles known as The Jungle.

It’s another case that strikes Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton in the heart and gut because she grew up in that neighborhood. Norton also recently solved the case of her long-missing older sister Tori, whose bones had finally been discovered at a shopping plaza not far from where she was last seen all those years ago–part of the scant remnants of her last living day. Tori had been literally under their noses, yet just beyond reach.

So Lou takes another trip down memory lane to The Jungle, and to a family that still lives in the same apartments where Lou and her family used to reside.

Part of her walk includes revisiting and reuniting with families whose members were problematic on the bullying front back in the day. Now, it appears that foul attitudes and bullying jackassery were passed down to the next generation.  

Lou manages to balance, though not always seamlessly, her unwavering dedication to police and detective work to keep other girls like Chanita from being snatched–while knowing how folks in her old neighborhood feel about the police and understanding why they do.

As part of the murder mystery backdrop, Rachel Howzell Hall continues to weave in relational dynamics between the characters in Lou’s life. From the ultra-tense sentiments she harbors toward her dad who ditched their family and is trying to make amends, to the tensions that arise based on cultural and environmental differences between the way Lou was raised and how her partner, Colin Taggert, grew up in Colorado.

But they still work well together as partners in crime solving, along with the other members of the homicide team. Part of the relational story includes a coming out and its aftermath between two longtime friends, and Lou’s attempts to juggle work and kind-sorta-but-not-really-but-still-kinda-sorta blossoming relationship with an Assistant District Attorney who seems like a great guy. 

As for the murder mystery, Howzell Hall‘s writing, as always, keeps me guessing. Who are the main suspects? What’s up with the three mean hood chicks who lived in the same apartment complex as Chanita? Did they carry out one of those Lifetime-esque jealous cheerleader-type of murders and dump the body in a nearby park? What about the mom who had a roughneck boyfriend? The convicted pedophile who lived nearby? The girl’s counselor at school? Some of her schoolmates? Who, what-the-what, when, where, how and why?

Who killed Chanita and tried to deter investigators by injecting bug repellent into her thighs?

Who’s sending the ciphers and other mysterious notes? Who killed AGAIN? Is this a serial killer?  What about the other missing girls? Who, when, where, what-the-what? How and WHY?

Well, that’s about all I can say without saying too much. But yes, is a page-turner!  And I’m so gratified that I guessed the right killer! But the detectives thinning the field did make it easier, though.

To find out more, check out this read— Trail of Echoes. It was published in 2016.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

EPISODE 20: If We Could Only Talk—a chat with singer- songwriter, a cappella arranger N’Namdi O. Bryant

When you know what you do best, sticking to your guns—as singer-songwriter PJ Morton writes and sings—is how to get your life’s work done.

Today’s podcast guest is N’Namdi Olufemi Bryant, a singer-songwriter and host of the podcast “For the Love of A Cappella.” We get into some themes of his latest album during this episode. It’s titled “If We Could Only Talk.” 

So N’Namdi and I had been talking about doing a podcast together for MONTHS, but as usual, life takes on its own plans. We were going to have him on before an album release earlier this year, then tech difficulties took over his project.

But the idea was still in both of our orbits. So—lookie here—I saw on Instagram that N’Namdi was in Washington, D.C. I said to myself—GIRL…..let’s make this happen! If you don’t ask him if he’ll have time for an interview—it’s an automatic no!

I asked if he had an time to chat. He said yes, and here it is! It all worked out.

So we met up at the Mansion on O Street. It’s a tourist destination located just off the bustling Dupont Circle, and has a fascinating trove of history tied to it. It’s also where N’Namdi sometimes performs.

There are so many themes to this podcast, and to preserve the integrity of the conversation flow, I tried not to do too much lifting and pasting of interview parts. We talk about negative self-talk, and what N’Namdi does to overcome that hurdle. Also—a discussion on imperfection and about the different ways he stretched his vocal range.

During our talk I learned some things I didn’t know in the decades since we last saw each other.

So let’s get right to the conversation, where we start talking about his podcast “For the Love of A Capella,”and where he got the idea for his program.

===========

07:55-Why it took him more than 10 years to complete one particular song arrangement

11:05—The makings and stories behind his current project “If We Could Only Talk”

21:30—How Kermit the Frog came up in our conversation

26:06—The road to vocal range

31:51—The time we talked about skylines and smog

33:39—Homeless in Huntsville, Ala. and Nashville

49:59—The part about albums, hilarious singing telegram and touching ride-share driver stories


That was N’Namdi Bryant…singer, songwriter, musical arranger…lover of a cappella! His new project “If We Could Only Talk” and his other albums are available on various online platforms–including iTunes.

Learn more about his projects on his website—The Acappellian.
You can also connect with him via social media:
Facebook
Instagram

Remember to also follow Planet Noun on Social Media, and to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform and please rate the show.

Thanks again for stopping by Planet Noun. Until next time, take care!

From breakup pining to thriving with “I Ain’t Thinking About You”

Whew! This book may be fewer than 60 pages, and it’s an enjoyable read—but a dense one. By that I mean there’s lots to reflect on… And reflect some more. This book is a workshop! 

Based on the title, I imagined a sassy, finger snapping read. That’s in here—along with research-based recommendations. I love when sass and humor meet academic research. I really relate to the tone of this book.

I also love the humor! Plenty of that in here, too…along with hope. That’s what I really, really like—all the steps are meant to get folks to hope.

My favorite parts include Chapter 4 and practical ways to get to acceptance—radical acceptance—and no longer blaming ourselves when someone we’re dating “ain’t actin’ right.”

Oh, and the necessity of forgiveness to get to a place of healing, and looking ahead to what we want life to look like after we’ve fully moved on.

I also love the humor! Plenty of that in here, too...along with hope. That’s what I really, really like—all the steps are meant to get folks to hope. Click To Tweet

There are 13 chapters total in the book, eight which outline the path leading to and including The Breakup Funeral™. Each chapter will ask you to do some thought work that involves accessing your deepest emotions surrounding the breakup (or breakups–plural– if it applies?) and any past influences that may impact your dating choices today. There are writing prompts that provide an outlet for all of that self-exploration and excavation.

Lenina Mortimer, the book’s author, recommends going through the eight steps in order because each step is builds up to the recovery culmination—The Breakup Funeral™.

Lookie here, seriously consider (then get) this book if you’re grappling with a recent breakup. Heck, you may want to check it out even if a relationship ended a while ago, but you’re still grappling with some residual grief. Even if your emotions and your mind ‘been known’ the person ain’t coming back, even if you don’t WANT them back—but you haven’t found it in you to start the path forward to thriving again… This book is also for you.

“I Ain’t Thinking About You” gets 5 out of 5 planets!

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