On the 25th anniversary of my 18th birthday

When I was 18, I had all these big plans for myself and how I was going to live my life. I was going to go to college and then go to medical school, marry my boyfriend Sean 1, get very rich, and have two or three children that we would only send to private school since we would be rich enough to afford it. We would have a big house, fancy cars, and we would live happily ever after 2.

When you’re 18, everyone expects you to have your life all figured out. You are supposed to start college knowing exactly what you want to be when you grow up, and you should have a carefully thought out plan to get there.

No one thinks about the fact that the average 18-year-old is making these plans simply to please their parents. No one acknowledges that a lot of these parents put undue pressure on their children (often based on their own failings), and they expect perfection because they are living vicariously through what they view to be a second coming of  (and a second chance for)themselves.

That type of pressure often ends up with young people making lifetime decisions without ever having the experience or the skills to know what it is they really want, and that is totally unfair.

I’m not sure what I thought 43 would look like when I was 18, but I am pretty sure it looked nothing like what I am living now.  The road here was long and windy, and there were many pit stops along the way. I got to meet a lot of people, travel to a lot of places, and do a great many cool things.

Without a question, the best part of the journey has been getting to know myself.

No one tells you that you won’t even know who you really are until well into your thirties. That is when you begin to figure out exactly who you want to be, outside of the expectations of everyone else. That is when you begin to live as your true, authentic self.

I’ve always been a writer, and I’ve always been writing, but it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I recognized I really had a talent for it. Up until then, it was just something I had always done in diaries, notebooks, and on random scraps of paper. And even then, even when I realized it was something that I could do well with every little effort, it still wasn’t something I took seriously or considered doing as a career.

In my thirties is when I realized I really had no desire to have children because I wanted to live life unencumbered and able to leave at a moment’s notice to follow whatever diversion I had discovered along the road of life.

My thirties were a time of great exploration for me. I spent a lot of time finding out what I liked and didn’t like. I took time to shake off old perceptions and work on new ideas. I spent time blogging and using storytelling as a way to figure out many of the problems and situations I was encountering in life.

My thirties were where I worked out many of the kinks.

My forties are where I have been putting things into action.

I’ve realized that we never really grow up. We just continue growing. Whoever came up with the concept of growing up anyway? It is limiting to think that there is some finite point at which you lose the ability to take on new challenges and learn new things

I am still learning. I am still growing. It is a process every single day.

There is still so much more for me to learn and discover about myself. There are still many places for me to go, and there are still a ton of things that I want to do.

There are probably still a lot more things I don’t even know I want to do yet, because I haven’t had a chance to discover them.

On this 25th anniversary of my 18th birthday, I want to be as wide-eyed, open, and curious about the world as I was back then. I want to remain ever engaged in the process of renewing my lease on life. I want to remember that as long as there is breath in my body, there is opportunity for me to do more, be more, and see more.

I don’t want to grow up. I just want to keep growing.



header image: Austin’s 13th birthday by Meredith Bell


  1. everyone else in my immediate circle thought this too, actually
  2. the lie of this fairytale is just one of the many things i now realize was sold to me by the media

T.I. – “Sorry” ft Andre 3000

Clifford Harris, Jr. and Andre Benjamin are two of my favorite Atlanta-based rappers. They came together on a track produced by Jazze Pha for Tip’s 2012 album, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head. T.I.’s southern drawl is perfectly complemented by 3 Stacks rapid-fire rhyme flow. The lyrics are realer than real. It’s one of those songs you can play on repeat a few times just to absorb the enormity of the artists and the artistry.


image via rock the bells

Kendrick Lamar Interview: Turn the Page 2014 Cover Story | Complex

“When I went back to my old high school, all these kids looking at me like I’m the real big homie, the same way I look at Jay Z, Nas, or Dr. Dre,” says Kendrick with a laugh, sitting in his luxury trailer at his Complex cover shoot. “You would’ve thought Michael Jackson walked through that joint off the excitement that they had.”

via Kendrick Lamar Interview: Turn the Page 2014 Cover Story | Complex.

I love Kendrick Lamar. I don’t mean that in a lusty, ooh I want him type of way. I mean that I love the vibe I get from him when I read stories about him, listen to his music, and hear the way he raps. He’s ready to represent the west coast in a major way, and I’m all the way here for it.

Kendrick Lamar – “ADHD”

I play a lot of Grand Theft Auto Online. Don’t judge me; it is an excellent way to relieve daily stress. There’s nothing like logging on, pulling my Grotti Turismo out of the garage and speeding through the streets of Los Santos while Kendrick Lamar’s “ADHD” bumps on the stereo. My television is plugged into my living room stereo, so the bass is extra kicking for me, and it makes the scenario that much more real.

“ADHD” is one of the songs featured on the in game station Radio Los Santos. Taken from Lamar’s 2011 release Section.80, “ADHD” focuses on the apathy and drug use/tolerance of so-called “crack babies” or people born in the 80s. The music is smooth, and Lamar’s steady cadence as he raps over the beat in a low, calm voice is almost hypnotic.

Take a listen and watch the video.

Grammatically Correct: a grammar nerd seeks to help

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I am the ultimate grammar nerd. I cringe when I see people confuse homophones, misspell words, or neglect the Oxford comma.

In the past, I pointed out bad grammar simply to snark or make fun of people, but I realize now that this practice is counter-productive. Making fun of people and shaming them for making grammar mistakes doesn’t serve any purpose other than to make me a grammar snob, and that is not something I aspire to be. OK, fine, I am a grammar snob, but that is beside the point. I don’t need to wield my large vocabulary and command of the English language over people like a deadly sword. If I am truly to be an information curator, part of that job is to share with other people the information I gather, and that includes grammar tips.

If I am entirely honest, there are plenty of times when I am confused as to whether I am using the right word or phrase in the right context or tense, but the difference is I go and look these things up before I throw them out to the people.  When these moments happen from now on, I will share them with the people so that we may all become smarter.

Besides, there is already a site that puts you on the Summer Jam screen if you use words incorrectly or spell them wrong. That niche has been covered.

Each week, I will be running a new column on the blog entitled “Grammatically Correct” that will cover different grammar topics including spelling, confused word usage, and questions from the audience.

If you have a question or grammar topic you think I should cover, be sure and send in a request.



An Open Rant Against Birthday Dinners – The Bold Italic – San Francisco

The fact that birthday dinners suck shouldn’t be anything new. Take a moment and try to remember a single time you left a BDD and thought, “Man, that was incredible. I’ve got to do something like that for my birthday.” NEVER. Yet when your own big day starts approaching a little too rapidly, and the idea of coordinating some epic camping weekend seems really stressful, but the idea of doing nothing seems really sad, you forget everything you know and think, “Wait, what about DINNER. With everyone! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!” It’s not a great idea. It’s the worst idea. Please don’t. But no, you’ve already given birth to what will become a heinous group-email thread, so here we go.

via An Open Rant Against Birthday Dinners – The Bold Italic – San Francisco.

This post comes at just the right time. My birthday is on Thursday. My friend OJ will tell you that I hate the very idea of group ideas for the reasons outlined here. Especially the part about splitting bills and people paying their part.

Dear Black Women: White Gays Are Your Allies, So Don’t Push Us Away | TIME

There is no question white gays have intrinsic advantages over black women in American society. Sure, we’ve taken our lumps, but black women certainly win the sweepstakes of oppression by a landslide. It is, in fact, this basic difference — race — that has enabled us to blitz through our civil rights movement in head-spinning fashion, while black women continue to face painful economic and political hurdles. Why did gay rights go from fantasy to entitlement in a blink of the historical eye, even as other oppressed minorities fend off efforts to deny them the ability to vote or obtain a decent education? Because so many of the gay men and women who came out were white and, thus, already embedded in the nation’s most powerful institutions.

via Dear Black Women: White Gays Are Your Allies, So Don’t Push Us Away | TIME. (h/t Maya)

I’m not sure in what universe white gay men and black women supposedly have a shared or similar experience, but this article is still worth a read. It exemplifies everything that is wrong culturally with this need for inclusion on the part of white Americans. It’s OK; you don’t have to be a part of everything.

I have a lot of gay, white male friends, and not one of them has ever told me they shared my experience, because I think they understand that as a black woman in America, my experience is almost always going to be harder. It is easier for a white male to pass in this society than it is for me to. White gay men have more advantages even in as much as their gayness sets them apart from their own counterparts in society, but that setting apart will never equal blackness. Ever.

Drake’s “All Me” is the ultimate theme music to walk into work to

I live my life with music. I have a theme song for everything, and those theme songs often change depending on what type of mood I am in. One theme song that has remained a constant since I first heard it is Drake’s “All Me.” From his album Nothing Was The Same, the song features 2 Chainz and Big Sean, and it is a banger.

This is one of those songs I play when I want to get hyped for the day. It gets me pumped and motivated to do good work, just like a theme song should do.

Act NOW! Obama FCC “Fast Lane Internet” Proposals Are The End of the Open Internet | Black Agenda Report

Before the 60 day comment period on these new rules began on May 15, the FCC had already received more than 3 million pleas from the public NOT to end network neutrality, the technical name for the principle that all content from every provider should be freely available to all comers over the internet. This should have stopped the FCC and the Obama administration in its tracks. But the White House and the FCC are not listening.

It will take a vigorous and sustained public outcry to stop the FCC from turning the internet, originally designed and built by government employees with billions of your tax dollars, into a privatized corporate plantation, much like cable TV.

via Act NOW! Obama FCC “Fast Lane Internet” Proposals Are The End of the Open Internet | Black Agenda Report.

This is so important, and it’s sad that no one is paying attention. People are blindly going through life while things continue to happen that impact the way they live on the daily, and they only take notice after the change has been made. Here is an opportunity to act before the change is made. Do something. Stand for something. Share this information just like you share those Kermit or DaQuan memes, or soon you won’t be able to share even those.

NPR’s diversity problem didn’t get any help from this reporter’s tweet

“It’s not easy to break into an unfamiliar community and find great sources on demand,” SPJ says. “If reporters develop some background first, they will be ready to hit the streets when they’re on deadline.”Kamenetz tried to explain the original tweet, saying, “Sometimes, it seems, majority voices are more eager to put themselves forward and respond to a media query.” But ultimately she recognized her own shortcomings.

via NPR’s diversity problem didn’t get any help from this reporter’s tweet.

Oops? If you are going to cover stories with diverse sources, perhaps you should begin the work of outreach before the deadline occurs?

Why isn’t LAPD ticketing drivers in the crosswalk? via Los Angeles Walks

On Wednesday June 18, I was crossing Flower Street heading east at 6th Street during my lunch hour. I was walking in the crosswalk, with the signal, when a vehicle heading east on 6th Street in the outside lane failed to yield at the light when making a right-hand turn. The car came to a quick stop in the crosswalk, startling me and I stopped walking to look at the driver, expecting to see an acknowledgement or nod of apology for nearly hitting me. Instead the driver laid on the horn, long and loud.Confused, I looked at the crosswalk signal which was still a clear walk signal, not even counting down, with other people around me continuing to cross the street. I pointed to the signal and held my hands up in a “I don’t understand” signal to the driver. He then proceeded to roll down his window and lean his head out, yelling expletives which—in summary—demanded I get out of the street. I had my cellphone in hand so I held it up to snap a photo of him and his license plate. Upon seeing this he hit the gas, swerved, pealing out as he continued down Flower Street. He missed hitting me and other pedestrians in the crosswalk by only a few inches.

via Why isn’t LAPD ticketing drivers in the crosswalk? | Los Angeles Walks.

As a daily Metro user and pedestrian, these types of situations bother me to no end. I will often yell at my dad when I’m riding in the car with him, because he has often pulled all the way into the crosswalk at intersections. If you can write jaywalking tickets, you can ticket drivers who do not allow pedestrians the right of way.

Blondie’s Deborah Harry turns 69 today. Happy Birthday, Debbie!

If you are a child of the 80s, then Blondie is part of your era of music. Deborah Harry’s easily recognizable blonde locks and signature vocal stylings were hard to miss in the early part of that decade. From “Call Me” to “The Tide Is High” to “One Way Or Another,” she rocked us through our preteen years and into adolescence all while never changing her style up.

In celebration of Debbie’s birthday, here are some Blondie favorites for your listening and YouTube viewing pleasure.