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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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I'm moving!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hello Friends,

After months of thinking about it, I've finally gone and done it. I'm letting go of this blogger blog & I'm moving to my very own dot com. So update your links and meet me over at my new place:

This Side of the Wall

So what does this mean?
Ain't nothing changing but the name (and address).

If you are already linked to this blog, in a few days, all clicks to this address will automatically lead you to the new spot. So if you're a little lazy (like me) and don't update your links, you'll still be able to reach me.

Also, all of the old posts and comments you've left over the past 3 years, are also making the move. So if you enjoyed a post, poem, or a comment, it'll be there as well.

So update your links, tell your friends, & join me on This Side of the Wall!

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 2:03 PM 2 comments

What Are You Waiting For?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hello, I'm TPW and I'm a procrastinator!

*hangs head in shame*

For as long as I can remember I have put things off until the last possible minute. When I was younger, I would wait until my mom was threatening me to clean my room. In school, I was always the one burning the midnight (and sometimes 4am) oil to finish papers and projects. Even now, I'll wait until the night before (sometimes) to plan lessons for my students, even though I know that it sucks to stay up so late these days. But I just can't seem to stop...why?

I was on Twitter (of course, right?) when @FunkyBrownChick shared an interesting link about procrastination. Although that article was a little over my head (too much scientific-speak, I mean I'm smart, but I've been on summer break!), but I did find a whole slew of articles aimed at understanding and combating procrastination. One of the articles, "Ending Procrastination" jumped out at me because I need to learn this skill badly.

Presently, I'm sitting here blogging, when I should be purchasing a plane ticket. You see, the munchkin and I have a date with beloved on Friday(!!) and I still don't have our tickets. This always happens. I wait and wait to buy them in the hopes that the price will go down (it never does), and then end up overpaying at the last minute because I'm worried something better will come along. Worry, according to the article, is another form of procrastination that stops people from acting. I totally get it. I'm not a huge worry wart, but when it comes to buying airline tickets? I worry about everything. But WHY? What am I so worried about? Clearly, I end up overpaying in the end, so it can't be the money, right?

The article on ending procrastination gives 8 strategies for reducing procrastination and I hope they are magic bullets.

1. Make a list of everything you have to do.
2. Write a statement of intention.
3. Set realistic goals.
4. Break it down into specific tasks.
5. Make your task meaningful.
6. Promise yourself a reward.
7. Eliminate tasks you never plan to do. Be honest!
8. Estimate the amount of time you think it will take you to complete a task. Then increase the amount by 100%.

Those things sound great in THEORY, but I know myself. I will procrastinate on making the list and end right back up in the same spot. I am starting to think procrastination has a lot to do with fear. Check it, I procrastinate on writing because I'm afraid to fail. I feel my writing (or myself?) isn't good enough. I harbor several other self-doubts, so I understand that sort of emotional procrastination. But what's with the airfare?

Are you a procrastinator?
What have you been putting off that you want to do?
Got any advice? I need it!

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:01 PM 8 comments

A Little Link Love - 8.14.09

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Fabric of my heart".
Originally uploaded by SharkeyinColo

It’s Follow Friday on Twitter again, and even though the day is young, I already know I’m most likely not going to participate (yes, I’m still lazy). But, I still like to show love, so here are some interesting posts that I came across this week. Hopefully they’ll be as useful and interesting to you as they were to me.

Drums, please!

1) Four Hour Work Week Blog—Tim Ferriss, the author of the bestseller, The Four Hour Work Week, had a great post (with accompanying video presentation) about how to drive traffic to your blog. This week I’ve really been thinking about my site and how I can make it better. With the help of tech maven Adria Richards, I’m getting ready to move this blog to a dot com (exciting, no?), in the hopes that I’ll have more control over its appearance and also increase my readership. Although I’m not trying to make money off of this blog (through advertisements), I am trying to work on my writing in the hopes that I can parlay this experience into more writing opportunities, namely a book. So if you’re serious about your blog and taking it to the next level, you want read Tim’s post: “How to Build a High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself”

2) GG Spirit Writes—This week GG sent me a tweet asking me to read her post, “Fun is Not Fun When You Spell It,” because I’m an educator. She hoped I’d have some advice to give regarding some issues her son was having in school. You see, last school year her son’s eyes were opened to the grimier side of 3rd grade. You know, the one in which kids drop the f-bomb and F-U-N stands for F**K – U- N**gas. Not cool. GG has a great relationship with her son and encourages him by giving him books highlighting positive aspects of black culture, but she asks is that enough? Share your advice with her.

3) But You’re A Girl—I met technology diva Adria Richards at this year’s BlogHer conference, and every since we hung out in Lucky Strike lane # 7, she’s been my go-to girl for all things tech. Not only is she helping me move from Blogger to a Wordpress powered dot com, she also helps people to get in touch with their inner techie through offering online trainings. In her post, “Latest Ain’t Always The Greatest,” Adria talks about the usefulness of old technology. In a world where we’re always looking for the next big thing, sometimes it’s better to just stick with what you got.

4) Press Rewind If I Haven’t—Lately I’ve had a love/hate relationship with hip hop. Between Wayne’s atrocity “Whip It Like A Slave” and the garbage that passes for music these days, I stay listening to my ipod. That way I can slip comfortably into the headnod of my favorite artists (Mos Def, Nas, Tribe, De La, Badu, etc). Press Rewind houses archived articles from The Source and lets me get my reminisce on in the privacy of my own home. Recently they posted a Sure Shot from 1994 that feature Nas. Oh how I love Nasir Jones. Every Saturday night I’d listen for his voice on the “Wake Up Show” anthem, and I listened to “Illmatic” so much over the course of 94-95, I popped two tapes. Seeing this article from ’94 takes me back to when music was GOOD and I was discovering my voice.

5) Color Online—Color Online is a blog dedicated to spreading the word about authors of color. This week I had the pleasure of writing a review of Carleen Brice’s new novel, Children of the Waters, for the website. This book was a wonderful read and I encourage you to visit Color Online to check out the review and pick up the book (and not just because I wrote it either!).

Have a link in need of some love? Share it in the comments section!

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 1:15 AM 3 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Do You Still Believe?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

200 days in, do you still believe?

In his ability and in ours to get it right?

Share your thoughts on where we are (and where you think we need to go)

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:51 AM 3 comments

Notes from the ER

Monday, August 10, 2009

I can count the number of times I’ve been in an emergency room on my left had. Once when I was 12, when I was pregnant, when the munchkin was 5 weeks old and fell (ok, I dropped him) out of his bouncy chair, and again last night.

Flip flops and three-year-olds do not mix. Yesterday, the munchkin was running around my grandmother’s living room., tripped, and hit his face on her wooden coffee table. At first, I thought he would bounce back up, like usual, but then I heard the screams. Then shrieks. Then blood. Blood. Blood. Blood.

I was shook.

I’ve never heard my child scream so loudly in my entire life. Blood poured out--all over my shirt, all over his face. It was crazy. Seeing him in so much pain nearly broke me. My heart opened, and I almost cried myself, but I held it in, not wanting to scare him even more.

And then we were off to the ER, and I assumed, to wait until…...

We’ve all heard the stories, people dying while waiting to be seen by an ER doctor have been reported all across the country. Here in Los Angeles, one county hospital (“Killer King” no less) closed after it was found to provide substandard treatment to patients (mainly poor w/ no insurance). Which brings me to the health care debate happening all over the country right now.

Until now, I’ve pretty much stayed out of it. The specifics of the bill being kicked around by Congress is so complicated my head hurts. I try to focus on things that directly effect me (and that I can understand), but sitting in the ER waiting room brought it all home.

I have health care. I’ve always had health care, except for the time I needed it most.

When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t have health insurance and I couldn’t afford it either. I was finishing grad school and had just been laid off from my job. Had it not been for PCAP, a program in NYC that provides free prenatal care for low/no income pregnant women, I would have been shit out of luck.

The center of the storm surrounding the health care debate seems to stem from people who have health care, not wanting to extend it to those that do not. The opposition throws around the term “socialism” to stop any sensible debate about why all Americans shouldn’t have a CIVIL right to health care. I don’t get it. Those who don’t want to extend health care to the uninsured also find themselves in ER waiting rooms, waiting to see doctors who are busy with non-emergency health issues, right? So why not make sure we’re all healthy? If everyone is insured, which allows people to not only see a doctor when they’re sick, but to get preventative care, it makes us all healthier and more productive.

So what is this debate really about?

What would you like to see in a Health Care bill?
Do you think everyone should be insured?
Been to the ER lately? How long did you wait?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 3:12 PM 10 comments

A Little Link Love

Friday, August 07, 2009

(photo cred: weblogcartoons.com)

If you've been reading this blog lately, you know how much I love Twitter. Every Friday, without fail, Twitter explodes with tons to tweets dedicated to recommending new people to add to your list. Follow Friday is great because it allows you to explore new people that you may have missed before. I love tweet hopping to see if the people I'm following, follow good people too. But I rarely participate in the lovefest. I'm lazy and it's too time intensive (or maybe I'm just REALLY lazy), and I can never narrow down my list to a few. I dig 'em all!

But, in the spirit of Follow Friday, I'm going to highlight a few cool posts around the web that made me think, enraged me, made me laugh, or were just plain ol fun. If you think you've got a great post worth sharing, please leave a comment with a link (but also leave a comment, cuz you don't want to be rude, right? Right!)

And now to the main event....

1) The FreshXPress--Through Twitter, I recently jumped on "The FreshXPress" a blog that tackles Pop culture, politics, love, and everything people want to read. Yesterday I read the post, "Lil’ Wayne,“Whip It Like A Slave,” and the Crisis of Coonery" and counldn't believe what I was reading. I try my hardest NOT to listen to Lil Wayne, just because his annoys the shit out of me, but I couldn't belive he had the AUDACITY to make a song called, "Whip It Like A Slave." For real?

2) Model Minority--My girl M.Dot always comes through with thought provoking posts that make my head hurt (in a good way). In the post, "So Apparently, I'm A Man" she discusses the fact that strong women, who assert themselves and what they want are considered masculine, because those traits (go getters, independent, opinionated) are equated with masculinity. Deep.

3) Slate--I normally don't read Slate too tough, but I saw a link via (you guessed it) Twitter and was completely enthralled in the post, "Does This Purple Mink Make Me Look Gay?" This article tackles the rise of the phrase "no-homo" in hop hop and how it may (or may not) change the way homosexuals are viewed in the culture. Personally, I can't stand the phrase. Many of my students (male and female) have taken to saying it. One student even said, "Can I borrow a pencil? No homo." Who knew pencils were gay? (They do make me happy though. hmm).

4) Green Lite Bites--So I'm trying to eat healthy again. I'm cooking more & eating out less. But sometimes I get bored with what I'm making and need some inspiration. I usually paruse AllRecipies.com, but the other day I stumbled on Green Lite Bites and found myself drooling. The dishes Roni cooks up look so good! If you're a foodie (or you just want something else to cook besides black beans and rice *raises hand*), check it out.

5) Aliya S. King--Ok, so I admit it. I'm not perfect! *gasp* But neither are most people. Aliya's post, "The Guilty Admission: I suck. That is All." was a funny look at how a writer/mommy/wife tries to manage it all. I found myself nodding at her lack of domestic mastery. I'm sure some of you will be able to relate!

the other day i mentioned Ananada Leeke and I would be discussing our experiences at this year's BlogHer conference on her radio show, "Sisterhood, The Blog Radio". If you missed the live broadcast, I'm bringing it to you here. Enjoy!

Got a link in need of some love? Leave a comment in the comments section!

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 1:43 PM 2 comments

A Little Self-Promotion

Thursday, August 06, 2009

(photo cred: JanBurke.com)

The internets have opened up a lot of opportunities for me and after attending this year's BlogHer conference and meeting so many women who are just DOIN' IT, I feel compelled to.do.something.

It's easy for me to procrastinate. For me, procrastination is like breathing, I do it automatically. So to step up and put myself (and my words) out there is kinda scary. But in the spirit of trying new shit, I'm kicking procrastination aside (for now lol) and getting my productive groove on.

Last week, I shot Susan of Color Online a message asking if she would like me to write a book review for her site. Color Online is a very popular book site that focuses on authors of color, and I've been looking for ways to expand my writing. I love reading and I love great fiction, so writing about things I love come natural to me. Thankfully, she was happy to have me write a review, so be on the look out for my review of Carleen Brice's second novel, Children of the Waters.

Another step of faith I've taken (I'm telling y'all, it was a productive day), was to reach out to a FABULOUS woman I met during BlogHer. She runs a site for hip black women and I noticed that, despite having several contributors, she was the one doing most of the writing. I figured, a busy sista like her MUST be tired (or up all night), so I shot her a tweet and asked if she needed writers. To my surprise, she was open to me writing for her site and so I'll be contributing really soon. (But this brings up a whole other can of worms: do I break out of my anonymity and write under my government name? I will explore this in another post. Stay tuned).

As the old saying goes, a closed mouth won't get fed. Far too long I've had ideas, wanted to do things but failed to just open my mouth and ASK for opportunities. No mas! I'm tired of cluttering my mind with shoulda, woulda, couldas that lead to nothing but self doubt and regret.

Even though I'm about to go back to work in a month, that doesn't mean I have to put my own personal goals on the back burner. I've been saying--for the longest--that I want to earn a living writing. I want to be able to work from home, be there for my son, and do what I love most: write. It's not gonna be easy to fulfill my dreams, but it's certainly not impossible. A little more hustle, and perhaps a little less sleep, and I'll get there.

One last note of self-promotion...

Tomorrow evening ( Thursday, August 6th @ 8pm EST/5pm PST) you can catch me chatting it up with Ananda Leeke on her radio show, "Sisterhood, the Blog Radio," talking about my experiences at this year's BlogHer conference, my definition of sisterhood, and what inspires me. Please listen, call in, comment, and show her (and me!) some love. {listen to the show HERE}

What is ONE thing you'd like to accomplish today, this week, this year?
Have you stopped living in the land of shoulda, woulda, couldas & stepped out to do what you want to do?
Got an interesting post or project? Drop a link in the comments section so we can check it out

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:00 AM 7 comments

Where Did Summer Go?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

(pic taken on my FIRST ride on a Ferris Wheel...last month!)

I am sitting here trying to figure out where summer went. Yes, I know. It's only the beginning of August, but I know the end is near. I can feel it. The end of the summer, the end of lazy days with the munchkin, the end of just hopping in the car on a Tuesday afternoon to go...anywhere. It's almost a memory.

At the end of the month the munchkin will be starting preschool and I'll be moving on to another, a little tougher, middle school teaching assignment. Honestly, I'm not at all ready. I AM excited about preschool. Excited because I know he'll LOVE it! But the going back to work part? Ehhhh, let's just say I'm hoping to hit the lotto before Labor Day!

Teaching is noble. It's necessary. Great teachers have a profound effect on kids' lives. But it's so damn labor intensive. It's tiring, it's frustrating at times, and I'm not at all ready to go back on the grind. Does this mean I need to figure out another profession? I dunno. I do love working with kids and having a positive effect on their future, but teaching takes such a toll on me that I feel like I'm shortchanging the things I love: my child, my writing, myself.

Hopefully it will get better as the year(s) go on. Maybe I'm just nervous about switching schools & the prospect of going into a tougher situation than I was in before. Or maybe, I'm just a little sad that the summer is ending and I'll have to wait another 9 months to feel completely free.

What are your plans for the last few weeks of summer?
What haven't you done that you still want to squeeze in?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:53 AM 2 comments

So Beautiful

Saturday, August 01, 2009

i don't listen to the radio anymore. well, unless it's NPR. so today, when i caught Musiq's ballad, "So Beautiful" blasting through my speakers, i was caught off guard.


& i couldn't help pause and think of beloved.

we've been going through it lately. the kind of "it" that happens when you only get to see each other every 3 or 4 months, and when your conversations are parceled out in 15 minute increments.


but when this song came on, its keys massaging the back of my eyelids making my hips remember just how much i love my dude, i couldn't help but smile.

music always has a way. a way of reminding you of what you've forgotten or taken for granted or just been missing so long you almost don't miss it anymore.

but i remember.
and i feel it.

what is your favorite love song right now?
what song(s) just makes you feel so damn sexy?
share, cuz i need to freshen up my ipod playlist.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:03 PM 3 comments

Follow Me?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

(my son, the ham)

My son, in all his three-year-old glory, loves to be around other kids. He loves running, jumping, kicking balls--the usual--and gets so giddy when he sees other little people around. Although, he used to be THAT kid (borderline playground terror), he's turned out to be quite a nice little boy. But as he gets ready to enter preschool, I'm starting to get a little nervous about the habits he'll pick up from other kids.

One thing I've noticed is that my son is usually so eager to play with other kids, that he can be a little too over the top. Often times he follows other kids around the playground, gets really close to them (in a nice way), and can't seem to get the hint when they don't want to play with him. When we're on the playground, I often have to call to him and tell him that so-and-so doesn't want to be followed around. When kids shun his friendliness, his feelings are completely hurt, and he comes to me crushed and on the verge of tears. My heart can't help but ache a bit, and I'm quick to give him some mommy love.

As I hold my son and try to assure him that someone else will want to play, I sometimes wonder how I'll teach him to be a confident, respectful kid who won't be a follower and will not be devastated when kids are mean.

I posted my question on twitter, and got some sound advice from another mother:

Although I'm starting to have more and more conversations with my son (and I feel like he actually UNDERSTANDS what I'm telling him), it never occurred to me to have him address not only me, the adult, but the offending child as well. It's so simple right? But gearing up for preschool I was so worried about him being mistreated and allowing it to go on, or worse, reacting to it and then being blamed, that my first bit of advice to him was, "tell your teacher if someone's being mean, ok?" He usually nods his head and then runs off a whole list of people he'll tell (mommy, daddy, abuela, pawpaw), as if we'll all swoop down to his defense. While I'm happy he knows he can count on us, I'm more interested in teaching him how to deal with these sorts of situations on his own.

So how do you teach your kids to stick up for themselves respectfully? How can I prepare my munchkin for the newness of preschool, and protect him from picking up new bad habits?

I'd love to hear from the mamas (and the papas) on raising confident, respectful kids. Comment!

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:53 PM 4 comments

Post-Racial Promised Land

Saturday, July 25, 2009

These past few days I've had the opportunity to circulate amongst some of the most powerful female bloggers in the nation. It has been a truly eye-opening experience for many reasons. Most of which have to do with my growth as a writer/blogger, and how I can become more focused and improve upon what I'm doing now, and others, dealt with just plain ol' life issues.

It's been almost a week since Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested outside of his home near Boston for disorderly conduct. Since then the media has been focusing on how, in "post-racial" America (gag), people are still dealing with the uncomfortable issues that surround race. President Obama added his two cents to the debate, acknowledging that Black & Latino men are racially profiled at higher rates by the police, and for that, he was accused of race bating by Conservative pundits. Normally, I would ignore their faulty analysis, but I'm starting to realize that SO many people have SO many opinions about race, that we might as well just put it all out in the open and talk about it.

The charade has ended. Let's not pretend that Americans are post racial. And to be honest, we will probably never get to the point where one's color, one's visible difference does not matter. Oh, we'd like to pretend we are THAT deep, that self-actualized, that progressive, but when it comes down to it, many of us still harbor some of the divisive stereotypes from the past.

Today I attended a BlogHer session on Marketing to Women of Color. The room was ethnically diverse and packed. I was psyched because I was amazed that so many non-colored girls were interested in US. Although sometimes I feel like black bloggers are marginalized to ONLY having a Black audience, I thought perhaps, this would open my eyes to something different. Then the conversations and questions became reruns of past conversations. The jist being: We want to be included too! Many women of color (WOC) bloggers shared that they sometimes felt disrespected by companies approaching them because they wanted to target a certain "urban" (read: black) audience in a certain way. While on the PR side, many lamented the difficulty of being an all-white firm, pitching to black/brown consumers. Although the conversation seemed honest and authentic, one thought kept running through my mind:


Learn what makes me tick. Read me. Study me. But not in an "oh, you're so exotic" kind of way. Learn my customs, my culture, how I live. Because, honestly, as a WOC that longs to be successful, I have no choice but to study you. So why not return the favor? If you're a company and your whole staff is white, you should probably investigate why you're whole staff is white, and not focus on how you'll be perceived as a white person pitching to a diverse crowd. Not that you have to go out and hire a token black/brown person, but in 2009, your company should already look like the world.

After the session, my suspicions that we weren't really past race were confirmed...with a tweet, no less.

It seems as though a blog that focuses on Moms of Color intimidates people. Why? I'm not sure. It's not that we, moms of color, don't deal with the same issues as all moms, because we do. I can only infer it's because of race, being that all other things--parenting issues, the products we buy for our kids, our children's development--remain equal.

It's sad that we've found new ways (and mediums) to segregate ourselves. The Henry Louis Gates issue has only pealed back the bandaid we've used to cover our race wounds. I would hope that, at some point, and through serious, honest conversations we will get past our differences and enjoy learning about each other. Maybe then we might reach the mystical, magical lands of post-racial America.

Listen to Denene Millner, founder of MyBrownBaby discusses race, the web, and blogging while brown HERE
Do you think the web is segregated?
How can we TRULY become a Post-Racial America? (or do we even want to?)
What do you wish others could truly learn about YOU (or your culture?)?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 4:07 PM 14 comments

BlogHer or Bust!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

If you haven't noticed before, I love Twitter (follow me!). It's allowed me to connect to lots of interesting people, with fascinating ideas, words, and blogs. It's continually shown me how small the world is becoming & how connected we all are.

When I was in San Francisco, I saw a tweet from Renee Ross about an opportunity for Moms of Color to attend the BlogHer conference. BlogHer is a site for women bloggers to interact and promote their sites and their conference is its premiere event. It brings together women bloggers from all across the word and hosts sessions on writing, building your business, social media, and so much more. I've eyed it from a distance, always wanting to go, but never taking the plunge. Most of my travel surrounds visiting beloved, or taking the munchkin someplace cool, so when I saw Renee's tweet, I decided, "what the hell" and I sent a message to the sponsor, Mom Noir.

Mom Noir is a new site for moms of color that will be covering everything from beauty to travel, parenting advice to pop culture. I'm excited to see it come to fruition, and I'm also excited because they are sponsoring my trip to BlogHer '09! Who knew sending one little tweet would lead to an all-expenses paid trip to one of the hottest Blogging conferences in the country? To borrow a phrase from the yougins, I'm geeked up!

I'm leaving tonight, heading to Chicago, and onto a new adventure. This experience, finding a sponsor, has opened up a whole new world to me. I can't wait to meet powerful, interesting, and engaging women who blog. One of my goals is to stop working for someone else & sustain myself through writing. Who knows, this conference may help me make connections and learn how to reach my goals.

Are you going to BlogHer? (or have you been?)
Has Twitter (or any other site) changed your life for the better?
If you had a sponsor, what would you like to do?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:07 AM 1 comments

Excuse Me, While I Kiss the Sky

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kiss the Sky, Farai Chideya’s debut novel, follows 30-something has-been indie rocker, turned TV music critic, Sophie Lee, as she struggles to overcome her demons and finally reach superstar status. When we meet Sophie, her band, Sky, is preparing for a benefit show that could catapult her back onto the rock scene. After stumbling upon mild success before drugs tore them apart, Sophie and her ex-husband/band mate/love of her life, are trying yet, again, to reach the mountaintop. Between Ari’s constant drug abuse, Sophie’s lack of confidence and incessant love for Ari, and the band’s scheming manager (who is also Sophie’s lover), Sky’s chance of stardom seems nearly impossible.

Chideya’s transports the reader to pre-9/11 New York City, describing the streets, the smells, and the attitude of the city before ever corner was dotted with Starbucks. Chideya allows Sophie’s blunt, vulnerable, and self-conscious voice to drive the story, leading us through her various neuroses, childhood scars, bad decisions, and her accent to success. Despite Sophie’s self-destructive habits, we find ourselves rooting for her to break through and become a bonafied rocks star.

Kiss the Sky is a fun, fast-paced novel that guides readers through the sex, drugs, and drama of the underground New York City rock scene. Pop in your favorite mix tape, and prepare to have a good time.

Have you read, Kiss the Sky? (thoughts?)
What are you reading now?
What do you want to read next?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:00 PM 4 comments

Flix from the Road

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm back.

The road trip was a success, despite adding my father at the last minute. He's not exactly the EASIEST person to get along with at times (especially when he's drinking, which is all the time), but we made it. We saw some beautiful sites up and down the California coast, lots of ocean views, miles and miles of farm land, and some cows. The kid got a kick out of seeing all of the animals, and even though it took a while, I felt an odd sense of accomplishment by driving the entire trip.

As promised, I'm sharing some of the photos I took along the way. Enjoy!

Down at the boardwalk.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was a lot of fun. This was our first stop on the road trip. We got to the boardwalk at about 7pm & found out that on Mondays & Tuesdays all rides were only 75cents! Yes! The kid road trains, and boats, he drove cars, and played games to his heart's content.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
I've been to a few aquariums in my life, but this one was, by far, a step above the rest. The hall of Jelly Fish was amazing, and there were seals and otters just sunbathing in the bay. Wonderful!

San Francisco
Even though I'm a native Cali girl, I had never been to San Francisco. It was a fabulous city, but so damn cold! (somebody should have told me to bring a COAT!). The weather definitely threw me (60s in the day time!), but we had a great time riding the historic cable cars, strolling Fisherman's Warf, and exploring the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. I will definitely make my way up to the bay again (and soon!).

(one of the hearts that decorate Union Square)

(you can ALLLLLMOST see the Golden Gate Bridge. the cloud were so low, it was hard to make out *even when we drove over it!*)

(the roof of the Ca. Academy of Sciences is alive, literally! It's covered in grass & plants. it was beautiful)

I hope you enjoyed the photo tour of my road trip. Hopefully this is just the first of many!

Have you ever been to San Francisco? If so, what is your favorite spot in the city?
How was your week(end)?
Got pictures to share? Link to them in the comments!

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:22 AM 4 comments

On the Road Again

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The view from the Ferris Wheel on Twitpic

After a busy, busy weekend of hitting up Sea World & the circus, the munchkin and I are hitting the road again. A few weeks ago I mentioned taking a road trip, and it's finally here!

Today, the munchkin, my mama, my little bro, and I are driving up the California Coast. I've planned a couple of things to see along the way: The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Golden Gate Park, and The California Academy of Sciences. But I'm sure, like most road trips, we will fit in a few detours. I'm planning on driving the scenic route, snapping a few pictures with my new camera, and sharing them with y'all.

I (probably) won't be posting this week, but if you're curious about how it's going, follow my twitter updates for pictures & the lowdown about the trip. When I return, I'm going to share my review of Farai Chideya's new novel, Kiss the Sky, as well as some of the things I've been writing this summer.

Be blessed y'all & enjoy the week!

What are you reading this summer?
Do you guys have anything planned this week?
Are you hitting the road this summer, or enjoying a staycation?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:12 AM 0 comments

Write, Like Me

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I have always loved a good story. Times like these, when I am off from work & school I tend to devour books. It's so easy to get lost in a world that isn't like my own (or JUST like my own, only different lol), and marvel at the talent and imagination of writers. For as long as I can remember, I've always liked making up stories. When I was young--maybe 7 or 8-- I would create knock-off muppet capers on our old typewriter and beg my mom to send them into short story contents. She never did, but I never stopped thinking up stories.

I've always run from the title, "writer" (apparently, I'm not the only one). I certainly don't get paid to write, although I do love it. Even though I've yet to see a story in print, I'm still like the 7-year-old me, thinking up stories in the middle of the night. Lately, I've been getting back to my love of words. For the longest I was too tired, too lazy, too busy to just sit down and write. For the past few nights, however, I've been staying up way into the wee hours of the morning...writing. And it's been good. For the first time in the long time I'm not procrastinating. I'm just letting it flow, and not thinking too hard about it (this is still a struggle). But it's coming. And I'm so happy about that.

So, in the spirit of the 7-year-old me, I'm going to share a little something with y'all. Comments and critiques are always, always welcome!



"I can't believe this is happening to me again." Nina muttered aloud as she lay in her bed, annoyed.

For the past few days she contemplated the remnants of her life. As always, she had a plan, and as usual, it had once again been derailed in an instant. As she lay in bed, she struggled to make sense of her world. Struggled to figure out what to do next.

"Well, get up..." She told herself. She in need of some serious convincing, but didn’t move.

"Get up, girl. Snap out of it," she tried once more.

Again, her body did not move. And again she tried to will herself to her feet with empty rhetoric. Nina's mind was willing, but her flesh, very weak, choosing instead to remain in the comforting lull of her pillow top mattress. Although she knew she couldn't afford to spend another day wallowing in the blueblack coziness of her bedroom, she was just so tired. Not physically, but mentally, exhausted by having her dreams dashed, again.

As Nina lay in her bed, she didn't feel like fighting anymore. Didn't feel like getting out into the world and blazing another trail for herself, only to have it blocked by yet another devastating roadblock. Today, Nina thought, she'd rest. She rationalized that she’d spend just one more day wallowing in her defeat, and tomorrow she would scotch tape together whatever was left of her life.

Nina reached for her remote and flipped on the TV, hoping to find some sort of reprieve from the doubts threatening to overtake her.

She flipped on the Today Show and watched as Matt and Meredith tried some delicious, exotic concoction. Her stomach twinged. Nina hadn't eaten for two days. She hadn't even thought about eating, too busy caught up in her own head. But watching them dance around the kitchen taking large bites of spiced curry shrimp, made Nina suddenly want to eat. But it wasn't that simple, little ever is. Since her self-imposed hiatus from life, she hadn't been to the grocery store, and she knew that whatever was left in her refrigerator was probably toxic.

Nina’s stomach growled angrily. Instead of pulling on a hoodie and jeans to go to the store, she flipped off the TV, pulled the covers over her head, and slammed her eyes shut. She willed herself to fall into near coma, hoping that tomorrow she’d awaken, and this would all be some sort of hellish dream.


Thoughts? Should I keep it going or kill it?
What are you writing/working on right now?
What are you reading right now?

Read the first part of the story I'm working on right now, "This Side of the Wall"

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:26 PM 4 comments

Soul Clap

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

(photo courtesy Goff White Design)

Today the world stopped. Literally. As if it has been thrown into retrograde and stopped spinning all together. For ninety minutes millions of people around the world paused to mourn the death of Michael Jackson.

I wasn't going to blog about Michael's memorial, there are so many people doing that already, but the commentary kills me. Twitter was popping, as usual. Many people were being respectful, and others were being themselves (asses), but twittering while I watched the memorial was like sharing it with a big group of friends. The web has made the whole world so tiny, and this man's music brought MILLIONS together. I am awe stuck, not only by the popularity of MJ, but by the sheer power of music.

And then, Donny Deutsch had to come along and wreck my high.

Deutsch was a guest on MSNBC's "the Ed Show" and he threw some serious shade on what was a joyous home going service. He claimed to not to want to be the "cold-hearted" guy, but claimed that all of us who were touched by Mike and shed a tear for him and his family needed to get a life.

After offending MJ fans everywhere, he went and hit me in the heart. While he continued to relegate Mike to being only a "great singer and dancer," he uttered some fighting words.

"I don't think music changes lives."

Record scratch. Say word?

Music has changed my life. It is something I take very personally. There are songs that have indelibly scratched themselves into my memory for all eternity. Moreover, I would not be a writer, would not have had the courage to speak my own story had I not heard Nas' Illmatic. Donny, music not only changes lives, it births them, it saves them, and it gives us something to keep striving for. How many babies have been made, relationships saved, revolutions started, and riots calmed just by music? When Africans were enslaved in America, music not only changed lives, it helped them spread the word about a path to freedom.

So Donny, don’t tell me music doesn’t change lives. If I have been reminded of one thing today it is how easily we can be united by a common thread. Despite racial, cultural, or economic differences, we can all find a commonality through music. It is truly a universal language.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:06 PM 0 comments

You Are Not Alone

Monday, June 29, 2009

Today I went to lunch with my grandmother, two brothers, and the kid and the talked turned quickly to Michael Jackson. I mean, he was a HUGE part of our childhood, especially for my older brother and me. I have been resisting the urge to write about Mike, because I'm sure, by now you've read every tribute, seen every video, and pulled out ever LP, CD, or MP3 of his music you've ever owned. But talking to my brother today brought it all back.

Michael Jackson is a LEGEND!

Michael Jackson's music indelibly scored much of my childhood. My bother and I reminisced about acting out the "Thriller" video--we'd put on the LP, he'd deepen his voice to mimic Vincent Price, and I'd tackle the dance moves. Around '85, my bro had a red leather, multi-zippered jacket, just like Mike. We thought it was so cool when we spotted it at the swap meet and BOTH begged our dad to buy it, pleeeeeaaasssseeee. Although my mother was very strict about what kind of music we could listen to, just about the only secular music we didn't have to sneak in the house was MJ. My mom made an exception only for him (Prince was way too much for my young ears), and we all crowded around the TV, super excited, when "Remember the Times" premiered on NBC.

As we talked, I realized just how BIG Michael Jackson was to all of us. My brother--mid 30s--was still able to tell me the songs from "Captain EO", a film we saw EVERY time we went to Disneyland (which was a lot). He was still able to tell me the ending of the video "Bad," and reminded me that "Smotth Criminal" had a super extended version that stared Joe Pesci. Our conversation made me really, really want to watch, "Moonwalker," a film that took viewers through MJ's career. I watched "Moonwalker" so many times I knew all the words & all of MJ's dance moves. My aunt had the movie and we'd watch it every time my dad dropped us off at her house. I called my aunt to see if she still had a copy, she didn't, but thank goodness for YouTube!

In honor of Michael, I want to share my favorite clip with you. Enjoy!

What is your favorite Michael Jackson memory?
What's your favorite song?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:49 PM 6 comments

Today my son and I were enjoying the freedom of our summer break and decided to walk to the bookstore. Since I’m trying to get the munchkin ready for preschool, I choose to use our walk as a teachable moment about colors. As we passed some flowers growing in someone’s yard, I asked him to name the colors.

“Purple mom! Das purple!”
“Good, and that one?” I said pointing to a white flower.
“I dunno….”
“That one’s white,” I said.
“White,” he repeated.

Then he said something that caught me off guard.

“What’s her color?”

My son pointed to a fair-skinned Latina that passed us on the street, and I didn’t really know how to answer. “What’s her color mommy?” He asked again, a little annoyed I didn’t answer him the first time. Silence. I was silent. I mean, how do you break down race and ethnicity to a three year old?

“She’s wearing black…her shirt and pants are black,” I scrambled to answer him somehow.
“Oh,” he said and kept walking.

Our walk to the bookstore and our conversation made me think about the influence, or rather lack of influence, race and ethnicity have on little kids. They are not born knowing or recognizing any differences between themselves and others—we teach them that. They are not aware of any of the cultural connotations, prejudices, and stigmas attached to different ethnicities—that’s all us. So how do we talk to our kids about the diverse world in which we live in such a way that teaches them to appreciate everyone’s uniqueness?

Every since Obama was elected, people have been talking about “post-racial” America, an America that has finally shed its racial prejudice and has achieved a sense of colorblindness. Honestly, I don’t buy it. Sure, America has elected a Black man as the president, but that doesn’t mean we are over our history of systematic racial oppression. Just when we’re ready to say we’re “post-racial,” racism rears it’s ugly head in the form of Rush Limbaugh, or the elderly man shooting up the holocaust museum, or some other lurking presence forcing us to take a long look in the mirror and confront this country’s racially divisive past (hello hollow slavery apology). Despite all of our strides, we have not moved beyond race…and shouldn’t’ have to.

In order to live peacefully as a body politic, you do not have to pretend our differences do not exist. We do not have to blind ourselves to our cultural, racial, and ethnic markers that help make up who we are---we should celebrate them. Pretending something doesn’t exist, is still pretending.

When I think of the blood of my ancestors—the Africans brought here so long ago, my Native American great-grandmother, my Belizean grandmother, my southern mama—each of these things, have shaped me into the woman I am. To sweep that aside under the guise of colorblindness would be akin to suicide. It would mean I’d have to give up myself in order to fit in. And that’s not a choice I’m willing to make.

No, in order to truly ascend above our past, we don’t have to be post-racial, we need to be ourselves.

And be okay with that.

Parents, how do you talk to your kids about race?
Do you believe we are in a “post-racial” America?
Or is that even a good thing?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:13 PM 8 comments

the do-over

Friday, June 19, 2009

I can finally breathe.

The school year has taken its last, long winding turn into the summer sun. The kids are gone. The grades are in. The room is packed up (well, not really), and I can finally relax.

This year seemed to last FOREVER. Longer even than my previous years teaching. Now that I have time to look back and reflect on how it went, I’m longing for a “do-over.”

My students were more than a handful this year, they were like a duffel bag of firecrackers, each full of their own opinion, swagger, and hormonally driven angst. I had to fight some of them every step of the way just so they’d see that what we did in that room was valuable. Some battles I won, some, I was beaten down, but at the end of the day I hope each of my students walked away with at least ONE lesson learned.

The last month or so of school, we read the novel, Monster, by Walter Dean Myers. In the novel, a sixteen-year-old boy was on trial for murder. I knew my students would be interested in the novel—strictly on the subject matter alone—but I didn’t know they’d LOVE it. To date, three books are “missing,” stolen by someone itching to take this masterpiece home with them. A stolen book, in a class full of self-proclaimed non-readers, is the highest compliment. So I was pleased not only that many of them told me, “that story is dope Miss,” but also because they could see themselves between the pages. For once they saw themselves and a world that looked like theirs reflected in a book. And that made my heart smile. To see them so deeply engrossed in the book, they yelled when we had to stop, lifted my spirits. But it also made me wonder how differently the year might have gone had I included more books like these in my class? Would they have listened more? Would they have tried harder? Would they have not gotten into that fight? These are the questions I struggle with as I run this year back through my mind over and over again.

If I could do this year over again (and lords knows, I don’t wanna!) I’d pick better books. I’d focus on building a family, before we building perfect sentences, and I’d make sure to celebrate their every achievements—no matter how small. If I had it to do over again, I’d be their biggest cheerleader and critic, pulling no punches and not just pacifying them because I’m tired, or not into it, or feeling lazy to fight. If I had to do over again, I’d work a little smarter, not harder, saving my energy for what really counts—them.

This year is officially over, so there’s no going back. What I can do, however, is think about the issues, my battles and victories and do better next school year. Even though today is over, everyday offers you an opportunity to do it over.

What do you wish you could do over?
How will you improve on what you did today to make tomorrow truly GREAT?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:38 PM 6 comments

Go Hard

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I'm a restless soul. What can I say? I'm a Gemini. Sometimes I get so absorbed in a project or idea and I'm working on it like a maniac till like 3 or 4 in the morning, and other times, I don't give it a second thought. That's how I was with this blog. I blog in spurts, but I know I should do better (have you noticed? I've been trying!). I know that I have certain goals in life. I want to write, but I hardly carve out enough time to just sit down and do it. That must change.

I stumbled upon Aliya King's blog the other day, and it came at the right time. You see, she's a writer/journalist and she doles out TONS of great advice/inspiration to those of us starting out in the writing game. Although I'm not starting out, I did go to school for this, I haven't taken advantage of every opportunity I've had. When I think back at where I could have been had I hustled a bit harder, I want to kick myself. But as my mother always says, there's no sense crying over spilled milk, so I'm moving forward.

Although it looks like I'll really be jobless come June 30th, I'm not worried. Through a short twitter discussion with my girl, Mdot, I realize this is just giving me the space to SEIZE the opportunities I've been neglecting. I want to write, and now with more time on my hands (sans job & with unemployment check in hand), I'll have time to write. I've been talking about releasing a collection of poetry for YEARS, and have just never done the work. I have the poems, sitting, waiting, but I haven't put them together. I will work on pulling it together this summer. I'm also going to see what I can get into on the web. I've already made contact with a few popular sites to do guest pieces, and to my surprise, they're open. So I'm going to roll with it. Even though it would be SO easy, I'm not going to complain about losing my job. Instead, I'm going to be open to all the opportunities that will come my way, and embrace them.

What have you been neglecting that you REALLY want to do?
When are you going to stop wanting to do it, and just do it?

(let's encourage each other!)

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:50 PM 10 comments

Label Me This

Monday, June 08, 2009

“Where's the munchkin?” She asked looking around for my son, who is usually attached to my leg, especially when in the company of people he doesn’t see a lot.

“He’s outside in the jumper,” I smiled and pointed toward the backyard.

“He's Baaaaaad!” she chuckled and walked off saying something about my son being cute.

I was taken aback. Her words stung my ears while I tried to brush aside her comment. Bad? My munchkin?

My son isn’t bad. He’s very active. At three he loves Thomas the train, Curious George, running, jumping, playing, his mommy, picking up rocks or bugs, kicking a ball, building sand castles, going to the park, any kind of truck, and eating strawberries…not in that order. He loves life, has a smile that can at once break and heal your heart, and he asks a million questions.

But bad?
Definitely not.

A few months ago I heard Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, on This American Life. He spoke about his program, which aims to end poverty in Harlem by educating kids from birth through college. His program boasts amazing results. Most of the students in his charter schools score at or above grade level and many have gone on to attend college. Although his programs are phenomenal, what blew my mind was the Baby College program. Baby College teaches parents, mostly poor and Black and Latino, to rethink how to parent. The program starts even before the baby is born. They discuss brain development, types of non-physical discipline, and having high expectations for your kids.

In the episode of This American Life, they discussed a study that tracked the dramatic differences between the number of encouraging words upper middle-class parents, and their poorer counterpoints, spoke to their children. The differences were stark. The well-off parents, on average, encouraged their children 500,000 times by the age of 3, and only discouraged them 80,000 times. Conversely, poorer children heard only 80,000 encouragements and 200,000 discouragements by the time they were toddlers. Which brings me back to the woman’s comments about my son.

This woman so easily brushed my son off as “bad” because he’s not always quiet, has his own mind, and likes to see what’s around him. I suppose, in her mind, he’s "bad" because I don’t beat him into stick-still submission. At three, my son shouldn’t be afraid of me, shouldn’t be afraid to learn about his environment, or move. His job isn’t to stick so closely by my side that he can’t do anything else. At three, he should be learning all that he can about the world around him so that he can grow into a well-rounded adult. I think many of us forget (or don’t know) that a child’s brain develops through exploration and being able to discover their world. Does that mean they’ll always explore quietly and in the ways that we’d want them to? No. But does that make it wrong? Definitely not.

Her comments also made me think of my students. I wonder, how many of their parents have continuously told them they were bad, or stupid, or crazy. I’m sure many of them have heard these words so many times it has become some sort of sub-conscious mantra. Today, I was in a parent conference, and my student’s mom threatened to “knock her teeth out” and “slap the shit out of her” on about four occasions. Clearly this mother believed heavily in “spare the rod, spoil the child,” but is it working? Is this little girl the best and brightest student I’ve encountered this year? No, she’s failing, and perhaps part of the reason lies in the messages she gets from home.

I know that I can’t control what others say about my son, but I can control how he is treated at home. Let’s face it, my son has enough strikes against him: he’s a young black manchild who’s father is incarcerated. My job, however, is to nurture him in such a way that he grows up strong and proud and loved.

How do you show your kids you love them?
Do your encouraging words outweigh your criticisms?

*listen to the episode of This American Life mentioned in this post here.
*Find out more about The Harlem Children's Zone

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:33 PM 9 comments

I Can Almost Taste It

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's almost here. The end of the school year is only 10 days away! I wish I could fast forward two weeks, but alas, life doesn't work that way. This year has seemed to have lasted forever. Even though the end of the year will most likely bring the end of my job , I'm still so excited. I'm looking forward to the rest, relaxation, and the promise summer brings.

Last Sunday, as I was watching reruns of Girlfriends, I starting thinking of what I'd like to do this summer. One thing that kept popping into my head over and over again was taking a road trip. Those of you who follow my tweets know I asked for advice about road tripping on the west coast. But ever since I first thought about it, it's been on my mind nonstop. Maybe it's the seemingly extra long length of this school year that has me primed to get away or perhaps it's the emotionally draining group of students I've had this year, but I know I need to get out of LA for a bit.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Every travel site I've been to lately has been talking about "The Great American Road Trip." Growing up, we never really went on road trips, unless you can count Las Vegas. But I never fancied the idea of riding in the car for hours on end, staring at the brown, bare landscape outside my window. But as I age, I'm starting to be a little more appreciative of the world outside my window.

This summer, I want to hop in my car and drive the kid up the California Coast. It's a short enough trip that I can get where I want in a day. Hopefully, the shortness of the drive (4 hours) will help me avoid the wrath of a 3-year old and his tantrum. We'll see, but I'm willing to chance it to see something different and have some fun.

What are your favorite road trip memories? What trips do you still want to take?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:55 PM 6 comments

Let's Face It, We're Broke

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Today we had a faculty meeting after school, which aimed to inform us more about the budget cuts, new info from the district, and securing our teaching positions for the fall. As many of you know, as of June 30th, I won't have a teaching position with the district unless they find some money and resend the layoff notices. Until now I have been very lackadaisical about our state's and our country's fiscal crisis. Yes, I'm worried about being unemployed, long term, but I haven't been stressing about it. What can I say? I'm blessed to not allow things stress me out too much, even when everyone around me is going crazy. But today, after Governor Schwarzenegger's speech, and hearing of the drastic cuts he wants to make to our social services and education programs, I'm terrified.

According to the LA Times, the Governor's plan would trigger "a dismantling of the state's CalWorks program, which serves more than 500,000 poor families with children, as well as the elimination of Healthy Families, which provides medical coverage to 928,000 children and teens." Moreover, the Governor's proposed cuts "would save $909 million by eliminating prisoners' substance-abuse counseling, vocational training and educational programs, and commuting the sentences of nonviolent offenders a year early."

Once again, the state's neediest residents--mainly poor women and children--will be deeply effected by the proposed budget cuts. I am always amazed that in the midst of any fiscal crisis, when people are in need the most, states scramble to cut services aimed to help people who really need it. Most people hearing the news about California's budget issues have the luxury of watching from the side lines, shaking their head at the loss of jobs and benefits of millions. But it effects me, tremendously. For too long my state and my school district have mismanaged funds, spent beyond their means, and haven't operated with the future in mind. The chickens of fiscal irresponsibility have come home to roost.

For once, I am scared. I'm afraid that my state which houses the 8th largest economy IN THE WORLD, will fail, not only forcing out state into insolvency, but also further tanking the whole US economy. And then where will we be? Fewer social services to depend on, less jobs to go around, less hope, less opportunity. The Golden State's sheen has definitely dulled, and for once, I'm really considering jumping ship before it's too late.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:43 PM 3 comments

#29, A Reflection

Friday, May 29, 2009

Last week, Saturday made himself welcome in my bedroom. Blood orange suit clinging to the corners of my eyes. I rose, energized and welcomed the sun to my private party. Born day # 29 began slow-like you always want Saturday to be.

Savored it. Went for a walk, just because there’s no better way to kick off a birthday than to get the blood pumping. When I got home, my little son sang his birthday wishes.

“Happy birthday to mommeeeeee, happy birthday to yooooooou, happy birthday to mommeeeee! Now, let’s eat cake!”

He was so pleased with himself. He’d been practicing the song for weeks, usually singing it to himself in preparation for his birthday, 6 months away. His infectious smile made me laugh, and he gave me my present: lots and lots of juicy birthday kisses.

I didn’t have any special plans for my birthday. Choosing, instead, to celebrate it with my family enjoying the breezy, bright Saturday afternoon. We had lunch, strolled around the Grove looking in store windows, watched the koi swim in the pond, and tried to keep my little one from going in after them. Relaxing.

Birthdays demand reflection. I spent Saturday, and the ensuing long Memorial day weekend, being thankful for all that I have been blessed with. Yes, my life isn’t perfect. My beloved is locked up and will be gone for 9 more summers and I might be unemployed by the end of June, but I have my health, my life, and my beautiful son who is somehow able to put a smile on my face even when I’m in the midst of the deepest funks.

Lincoln once wrote, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” I’m trying to live every single day to its fullest and appreciate all that I’ve been blessed with because for some, their years have run out.

Tomorrow, I will attend a funeral for a woman I’ve known for over 10 years. She’s been a mentor to me, especially during my teaching years. For over 40 years she dedicated her life to educating little brown girls and boys before it was cut short Monday night. When someone so loving, supporting, and down right fun passes unexpectedly, it forces me to be thankful. I am more thankful for everything, especially every woman in my life that has molded me into the mommy, teacher and woman I am today.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:12 PM 4 comments

Listening to President's Obama's speech today, made we instantly think of Slim Charles' reaction to Stringer Bell's death in the Wire. In this episode, Bell is cut down in a hail of bullets because of his shady business dealings amid a drug war between the Barksdale and Marlow crews. Although Bells death has nothing to do with Marlow, and everyting to do with his compadre Barksdale, Slim Charles recognizes that the war, however misguided, will wage on.

Litening to President Obama chastise the Bush administration's blatant disregard for the rule of law and practice of torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, while asserting that he too will, in essence, sidestep the law through "continued prolonged detention" of detainees that pose a threat even though the evidence does not warrant prosecution, was sort of mind-blowing. Yes, I understand some of the detaines pose a threat, but to assert that you're going to uphold the law & our moral standing in the world, while holding people indefinitely seems like some slick double-talk.

I like President Obama. I feel more hopeful with him in office, but I do expect more. I know he's in a tough spot. I know closing Gitmo and finidng a safe and sensible soulutin to this issue of dealing with terror suspects will not be easy, but I'm a bit disheartened. I know that this situation is extremely complexand probably can't simply be solved by "doing the right thing," but I wish that someone would just step up and make those tough choices.

What do you think?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:37 PM 4 comments

SMILE! It's Saturday

Saturday, May 16, 2009


(but so true)


Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:19 PM 2 comments

Living Single

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The first time my son met his father was in jail.

Blistering cold out, I wrapped my almost two-month-old son in a baby-blue snowsuit, and a hand knitted blanket and walked to the train station. We took the E train in Queens, then transferred to a bus that would take us to Rikers Island.

When the bus crossed the bridge onto Rikers Island, I didn't know what to expect. Even though I was somewhat of an around-the-way girl and had cousins who had been in an out of the prison, I had never set foot in a jail. My experience with jail was only what I'd seen on Law & Order, and from the looks of the show, Rikers was like the ninth circle of hell.

When I got off the bus gripping my newborn son, I didn't know I'd have to go through three sets of metal detectors, leave everything I carried for the baby—except for a blanket—in a locker, remove my shoes, shake out my bra, and take off my socks just to spend an hour with my beloved and introduce him to his son. It was a humbling experience, and I never wanted to do it again, but it's been three years, and this is our life…for now.

Raising a child is an arduous task. Raising a child alone is even more daunting. Because his father is away, I am in the precarious situation of being a not-so-single, single mother. Although his father tries to father our son through visits, phone calls, and letters, he is not able to be with us on a day-to-day basis, which means it's up to me.

I never planned on being a single mother. When my beloved was locked up, we were a week away from ushering our son into the world. We had bought all of the necessities, celebrated with two baby showers, and were happily awaiting his arrival. One night, our lives changed in an instant, and I was thrust into the difficult role of being another single, black girl with a baby.

When my son was first born, I vowed that even though he was being raised in the absence of his father, he wouldn't want for anything. I have made it my mission to give my son every advantage, every opportunity, and every indulgence that is feasibly possible. And even though we now live 3000 miles away from his father, I have made a conscious effort to keep our family intact and make sure we see him as much as humanly (and financially) possible. Even at three, my son knows both his mommy and daddy love him fiercely, and he is happy.

Solo-parenting my son has been both rewarding and very lonely. When we venture out to the park or to the movies or anywhere and see complete families, a hint of sadness curls around my heart because I am reminded of what is lacking in our life. Although beloved and I are together, I am still the one parenting our son alone, making sure he doesn't feel as though he has missed out on anything just because mommy's raising him by herself.

Since becoming a parent, I've become acutely aware of how I'm viewed, and have gone out of the way to make it known I'm not the stereotypical single mom. Even though single parents are raising more children, there is still a huge stigma that looms above our heads. And for black women, it's even worse.

I am not your stereotypical single mom. I have both a Bachelor's and Masters degree, I'm a professional, and I make a decent living. I am not on welfare, I'm not out having multiple babies by multiple fathers. I am young, black, and gifted and a mom.

As my son grows older and becomes more aware of his father's absence, I know I will have to explain the situation and reiterate that he is loved truly, deeply, and completely by both of us. He will have questions, and I pray we will have the answers. But for now, I am enjoying having my son all to myself. I am blessed to experience all his funny faces, silly dance moves, and I loves yous and not feel selfish one bit.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:03 PM 8 comments

First Lady Michelle Obama was recently honored by People Magazine as one of 2009's the most beautiful people. We all should have seen this one coming. The media has been in an absolute frenzy since the Obamas got to Washington, and the first lady has been mentioned by nearly every magazine and tabloid on the planet. What I enjoyed about her nod in this year's list, however, were her words. She states,

"I had a father and a brother who thought I was beautiful, and they made me feel that way every single day...I grew up with very strong male role models who thought I was smart and fast and funny, so I heard that a lot. I know that there are many young girls who don’t hear it."

I echo Mrs. Obama's sentiments. Although my family wasn't perfect, my parents made me feel as though I was smart enough and beautiful enough to conquer the world. Without Mrs. Obama's parents and my own, who knows what sorts of pressures we could have fallen victim to. Many of my peers did not make it to college. A few had babies before we even walked across the high school stage humming "Pomp and Circumstance," and even more still are just out there "hustling." Having someone in your corner that has your back is amazing. It's empowering, and it makes you think you can accomplish anything you want.

Unfortunately, many kids do not have someone they can count on. I run a support group for kids at my school and today we were discussing resources (people) we could count on in a crisis situation. The kids in my group have a myriad of things going on in their lives. One girl feels completely alone, says her parents are "bad parents" and opts to keep to herself because she's depressed. Another just lost his grandfather, is angry at his own father because he hasn't seen him since he was two years old, gets into fights a lot, and cuts himself to deal with his pain/anger. Yet another is VERY angry with his father for leaving him for his stepmother and cries and lashes out in anger to compensate for his pain. Heavy. Although they deal with very different issues, the tie that binds each of their stories is that they do not have an advocate they feel comfortable with. Despite their problems and imperfections, I have learned that they are great kids, yet they don't have someone that has their back and tells them it's ok to dream and work to reach those dreams. It's sad, but if they are going to make it, they will need some help.

I've struggled all year not to get too attached to my students. This year, it has been easier to not let their issues become my issues, but this support group is another animal. I wasn't expecting the kids to come with issues so raw and deep, nor was I expecting them to be so willing to open themselves up and share their wounds. If we are going to raise more Shashas, Malias, and Michelles--we are going to have to step in the gaps for our kids.

What can we do to help? Mentor OUR children. Even if parents can't be there, if families are dysfunctional, even if you don't feel like it's your responsibility...it is. Who else can help our kids but us?

For more information on how you can get involved, check out The National CARES Mentoring Movement.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:49 PM 3 comments