We’re so interconnected

I took part in a Zoom girlfriends conference call earlier. About five of my longtime friends and I met up in a room set up by one of my decades-long pals…

Living during a pandemic and social distancing and shelter in place orders…made me realize that I allowed work to get in the way of maintaining my friendships.

But no one’s knocking work. It’s important. It allows me to buy things—like food. And toilet paper. And more hand sanitizer—when I finally track that down.

But one of the things we discussed that is sticking to my mind—how interconnected we are—top to bottom, side to side, everyone incredibly integral to everyone else’s survival and well-being.

Doctors.
Nurses.
Hospital Techs.
Custodians.
Physical plant staff.
Guards.
Police officers.
Fire/EMS.
Dispatchers.
Grocery workers.
Restaurants.
Journalists.
Research scientists.
Imma say that again for the people in the socially distant back who may need to read it again.
Research scientists.
And everyone in between.

Let’s not forget the delivery drivers—shout out to all of y’all from the Amazon, UPS and FedEx folks to the gig-working drivers who deliver app-based food orders.

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:

Get moving by getting unstuck with author Fredrick Bussey

So…who ARE you?

I can’t help but think of Alice in Wonderland—the Disney movie…and the caterpillar with the hookah…asking Alice this question while blowing smokey designs in her face.

No smoke here…but the question remains the same.  

Who ARE YOU?

What are you here to do?

What’s your gift?

No, I’m not talking about something you got for a birthday or holiday—if you celebrate those.

I’m talking about something that’s special about YOU…something that you were BORN with—that no one else can do just like you.

I’m not talking about a skill like playing an music instrument.

I’m not talking about talents either…but gifts. 

But what’s the difference, you ask?  That’s what today’s guest on Planet Noun is discussing in this episode. Fredrick Bussey also wrote a book about it. 

So let’s get right into it…he’s a dad…a speaker and entrepreneur…founder of marketing and branding consultancy IconStatus…his work? Helping brands and individuals to convey their stories with more power.

More from Fredrick Bussey author of the book “Breaking Orbit: Rip Out of the Regular by Unearthing the Power Within” on Planet Noun.

Learn more about Bussey via his social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram:

Purchase a hard or e-copy of his book on Amazon:

Junkanoo in the Bahamas

In August of 2019 I had the opportunity to attend a wedding in the Bahamas. The Bahamas is such a beautiful vacation spot, I could not pass up the opportunity to visit this lovely island again.

I stayed at the Atlantis on Paradise Island. I wish I had more time to experience what they had to offer, but my time spent there was very enjoyable and fun.

As it turned out, Junkanoo was also being celebrated. Oh the joy! I’d told myself that I wanted to start attending Carnival and Junkanoo celebrations in the Caribbean, and look what happened.

Early morning at the Atlantis after the rain.
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Junkanoo

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What is Junkanoo?

“Junkanoo, a Bahamian national festival, is a kaleidoscope of colours and sound,” states this excerpt from the Bahamas Government website, which also summarizes the festival’s traceable origins, and evolution of its costumes.

“The rhythmic sounds of cowbells, goat skin drums and whistles, accompanied by an array of brass instruments, create a sweet musical beat that will move you; while brilliantly coloured costumes capture your eye, and bring much visual delight.  This bi-annual cultural highlight takes place on Bay Street in New Providence and other Family Islands during the early morning hours, from 1:00a.m. – 9:00a.m. on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Year’s Morning.  Junkanoo can also be experienced on many celebrated occasions such as independence Day (July 10th).  There is also a Junior Junkanoo Parade in December, held in New Providence.”

Parade route in front of the Fish Fry.

I was told by several locals that the parade in December is much bigger and that I should come back. Putting that on my bucket list. Have you ever been to any Carnival or Junkanoo celebrations in the Caribbean? Tell me about them.

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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.

Episode 25: A skin problem + healthy solution = a skincare biz

So my sister and I met up for Essence Fest during the summer…it was the event’s 25th anniversary. And we had a BALL! We mainly went there this year for the music and the marketplace that showcased all of these black-owned and produced product.

So we were meandering through one aisle…and a gentleman approached us and started talking to us about our skin. We were both satisfied with our current products but wanted to learn more about this brand. Then he introduced us to the product line creator…who is today’s guest on Planet Noun…

So we tried the moisturizer on our hands…and were impressed with how our skin felt…supple-soft…and the product had no heavy scent…another plus for us.

Now sis and are loving Three Notes Skincare!

But how did this business get started?
Simple…It started with an issue that needed a solution.

Take a listen to Tanzania Crew—founder of Three Notes Skincare—on Planet Noun.

00:00—A skin problem needs a solution

24:38—The meaning of Three Notes

35:30—Good news for the company

Today’s guest—Tanzania Crew—founder of Three Notes Skincare. She joined me from the Memphis area. We met at Essence Fest where there were LOTS of quality products for sale in their marketplace at the convention center in New Orleans.

Learn more about Three Note Skincare and purchase products on the Three Notes website.

And on social media:

Instagram
Facebook
Twitter

Additional Links

Here are some other products and sites Tanzania mentioned during out chat:

Doughful website: An online marketplace for folks who create doughful deserts to those who plan events where such artfully crafted treats are served up and eaten. Learn more on the Doughful website: https://www.doughful.com

The Pupp Cleanse
This book sparked from the time when Tanzania got a rash after the birth of one of her children. She developed an intense rash and chronicles the process she used to eradicate hers.

As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases

http://www.pupppcleanse.com

Three Notes on Essence.com



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

People, Places, Things, Ideas!

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