I love my job. Yeah, it doesn’t really pay well but the feeling I get when I come to work makes up for the paycheck. I feel calued. I feel needed. I feel like I have some expertise and most importantly I feel like I’m using my gift.

Man, my heart is filled with so much warmth right now that even if the publisher comes in and goes off, (she’s a wild one!)I wouldn’t care cuz I love being here. I work with all black people. They remind me of my family, they are so wild! I love them! Today we are having a birthday party for all of the March- May birthdays and they are ordering up some crab and rice, macaroni & cheese, collard greens, potatoe salad, baked fish and fried chicken. Wow.

I remember at my old office we had a pot luck and I was going around the buffet table thinking, “What the heck is this?” I didnt even recognize any of that stuff they brought in.

I have a whole HOUR for my lunchbreak and I can go anywhere I want to and yesterday I went over to my friend Andy’s school where he teaches fifth grade and I hung out with him in his class. We ate those big cafeteria cookies! Remember those? It was so good.

Today I was gonna go over to Anna’s school, she teaches 3rd grade I think, but it looks like I can’t since we’re having a party.

Right now, I’m working on a project for a national association of black newspapers. My publisher has to draft a set of ethical standards and guidelines that the association will be run by. She passed the project on to me to get started and I have to write all that professional lingo and sound smart and stuff as I explain why having a set of guidelines is important in newspapers and just what these guidelines are. I have to create everything from scratch. I love it!

I’m also working in marketing and sales. Since there was no real sales team until a few weeks ago, I have to start from scratch by creating a media kit and creating the protocol for the sales team. I called on the expertise of my friends Ruby, Rick and Polly for this one. I was a magazine journalism major and they are the advertising and sales experts. Ruby got her degree in advertising, Rick makes lots of loot in sales and Polly is the former director of corporate support for WUFT-TV/FM, I used to be her personal assistant.

I got great pointers from each of them and I believe I can get a good start. I am a little nervous about sales though. I mean, I always thought I would just dazzle the people with my great writing and get money thrown at me. But this is not gonna be like that, but its my chance to learn a new skill. Can I be a super salesperson?

My column

We’ve been receiving some responses from the community about our column. Basically, we debate each other on topics of interest and so far Hansen presents the radical, controversial side while I present the grounded, spiritual, calm your nerves side. It’s so much fun, but it is very challenging. When he sends me his column it takes me a while to write my response. I always get nervous and freeze up and worry about if I have something intelligent to say. But every time I hit it just right.

Oh yeah, my second column was about letting go of the pursuit of a relationship and pursuing your purpose. Once you focus on your purpose you will meet others who share the same purpose and then you will be united with someone based on interest instead of physical attraction. Makes sense? Yeah. Instead of going out with someone cause they bought you a drink, you can eliminate the whole process of having to see if you have something in common because you will have met that person while you were pursuing your purpose which means more than likely they will have the same purpose as you do.

In a nutshell, line yourself up with God’s purpose for your life and watch as the pursuit of your passion produces a perfect match.

Lord, help me take all this to heart for myself, cuz I sho’ll be like, dang when this nicca gonna act right and bring his behind on ova here? SHOOOOT, cuz a sista need some love too. LOL

Today was a beautiful day in the MIA.

The sun was shining and it wasn’t too hot to go outside so this morning I packed up my sons and went to the beach. I wasn’t worried about them trying to get in the water, they are very cautious and it was a good thing because the rip tides are pulling people under left and right down here. We just ran along the shore and played in the sand while the water kissed out toes.

By the time we got home they were both good and tired so I gave them lunch and messed around and gave them some icecream. I shouldn’t have done that. I had planned to go to a beach party with my friend Andy but my mama told me I couldnt go anywhere until the boys were down for their nap and all that sugar I gave them had them buzzed. Lesson learned: No more icecream before a nap.

After their nap we went to visit my friend Marsha and had a good time. It was just beautiful to sit and watch the boys play while I chilled out and chatted with my homegirl. Dang, it’s the little things that make life happy.

Just as we were about to leave Marsha’s mom comes out and says, “Now don’t you go having sex with anyone down here in Miami, they all have AIDS.”

Dang, what a way to say goodbye. It’s not like I plan to have sex but I haven’t taken an HIV test in a while and I always worry about that. I’m not promiscous anymore but there are always those haunting memories of those times when I should have been more careful.

But what can I do now but wait and see. I’m a worrier. I worry a lot about my past mistakes and those risky behaviors cause me to lose sleep at night. Damn, I wish I wasn’t such a hoe back in the day.

Even since I’ve been in Christ I havent been sleeping around. But the funny thing is, when I have had sex in the past since coming to Christ I feel a lot worse because it is always a one night stand. It’s not like I’m fighting sexual temptation on a daily basis because I dont have a man or a “friend with benefits” but those times I just wanted some affection led to me having sex and I never speak to the guy again because I dont want to have an opportunity to mess up again. So it becomes a one night stand.

I lost a good friend over sex. I refuse to be friends again knowing that we already crossed that line because I dont want to make the same mistake.

But since I have been down here everyone is talking about AIDS and its scaring the mess out of me. I have seen several people that I know who have it and the rumors are that there are so many more that you dont even know about.

I dont have a desire for a new man or anything but that doesnt erase my past mistakes.

As soon as things are settled with my job and the boys school and my car I’m going to take another test. Maybe God will grant me a clean slate. If not, it’ll only be my own fault. Even though God forgives we still have to face the consequences of our actions.

I’m scared, but I have to know, because not knowing hurts just as much.

Get tested for your peace of mind.

Yep, I write almost everyday. I have to. I can’t NOT write. It’s what I do. You know you love it!

Today was the first day in seven weeks that I had some time away from my sons. I really needed it too. Their paternal grandmother picked them up for church and they didn’t come home until 6pm. So I was able to get a good nap before I heard the knock at the door announcing their arrival.

I went to the grocery store before church and I didnt even have to think twice about the route I would take. I’m learning, I’m learning.

I went to church with my baby mama Racole and I flipped out over the role she plays in this church. Racole truly has a servants heart in her church. Homegirl was leading praise and worship, put the mike down and played the drums, put the drums down and was working the speaker system and still gave the scriptural reading for the day. And she wonders why people get upset when she goes away for a weekend, homegirl runs that church! I wouldnt want her to leave either.

She takes ownership of her duties. I respect her so much because she doesnt wait for someone to tell her what to do. She sees a need and she fills it.

You don’t have to wait until someone else tells you to serve. You dont have to wait for God to speak a word to your heart. The need is the call.

If you see a need and you can do something about it then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Don’t just sit up and complain and talk about the problem, SOLVE the problem or make an effort to find someone who can.

I love you so much. You have no idea. You are already a part of me.

Afro Update

Well, I have been happily nappy for about a year and a half now. I used to wear my hair so short I couldnt even pinch it but now I have decided to grow it out like Thelma from ‘Good Times’. It’s not working.

My hair is so nappy and so thick I can’t even comb it unless it’s wet. But when I pick it out it does look nice so I look like a nice young woman until it dries up again and I start looking like a nappy headed freak.

I like my naps though. Sometimes I let it go nappy without combing it as a protest against the norm, or, maybe I’m just lazy.

I like the contrast in my looks, me always one to rage against the people who say I’m the next best thing to a white person since I’m fair skinned and I have green eyes. I’m not white! I am a nappy headed black girl from the City, Liberty City.

I can’t fight, but I look like I can. I’m rough, in spirit.

So, now my nappfro is about 2 inches high. I hope it grows longer because I’m so tempted to cut it all off again and be bald headed. I loved that look, it was so easy to maintain and oh so chic.

I’m hoping for an afro that is long enough that I can wear afro puffs and do cool ethnic styles like braids in the front and puffs in the back and then wear head wraps and scarves and pretty bows to accent my outfits. I have a vision for my hair and if I can be patient, I will see it come to pass.

Visit one of the websites that helped me through my first few months of nappyness. Nappturality.com

I’m happier now that I am natural. I feel like I can get a perm and then cut it off and wear some weave or a wig or whatever. I’m not limited in my options now that I know I look good with anything.

But I think I will stick with my nappfro for a while.

This afternoon I took my lunchbreak and went over to Hadley Park and relaxed a minute.

It was truly a time of reflection as the memories of my childhood flooded my mind.

I remember growing up in Liberty City and going to Hadley Park to play. I remember when Hurricane Andrew hit Miami and we drove through the neighborhood to see the damage. Hadley Park, whose trees were so huge that you could park a car behind a single tree

and it would be hidden, was now filled with skinny little anorexic trees. Hurricane Andrew had demolished them all, leaving huge tree trunks, ripped from the ground by the roots and scattered everywhere.

Despite the loss of human life and the devastation to so many homes across Dade County, the experience of Hurricane Andrew was an exciting one for a skinny 13 year old and her friends. The start of school was postponed due to the crisis and there was no electricity for days. I remember everyone taking out their grills and barbecuing everything they could find to eat. We had to take cold baths and read by candlelight, our clothes sticking to our bodies due to the extreme heat of the summer.

It was wild living in Liberty City. They called our neighborhood Gun Shot City, my street was ran by the John Doe boys who shouted, “John Doe, John Doe, weed, base and blow. Walk by, drive by you don’t get high!” to cars passing by.

In elementary school we knew something was wrong when we saw our Mama walking down the street to walk us home. She would greet us and then have us take a different route home due to an ongoing gun fight between the boys on the block. When we first moved in that neighborhood I remember us spending many nights sleeping on the floor. We had a first floor apartment which made us vulnerable to the stray bullets that peppered the night sky.

For some reason I never got caught up in the drama. The street life never appealed to me. I was too busy visiting the library checking out as many books as I could so I could dissappear into my room with a glass of kool-aid and some cookies and read until my mind couldn’t store anymore images of young girls whose problems were as devastating as the cute boy at school who didn’t notice them.

By reading so many books, I created a reality for myself. I began to think that the characters in these books were my role models and that life consisted of being the most popular girl in school and going away to college to become something great.

Those books by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and Betsy Haynes shaped the person that I am today. I learned from them what kind of person people liked to be around. What made some girls popular and what made others hated and I likened myself to the popular nice girls.

Although we lived in low income housing I always thought I was well-off. I never had to ask for anything twice. I always had new outfits for every occassion and my hair was always done. Even though they didnt know it, my parents were teaching me that if I was obedient and worked hard I could have anything that I wanted.

I was never extravagant. I didn’t own a name brand purse until recently but I had the best in my eyes. I always did what my parents told me to do because I knew that if I did, they wouldn’t say no to me. I began to dream far beyond my neighborhood limits, applying my reality to the entire world. I believed that if there was anything in this world that i wanted I could have it if I tried. I believed I was going to have the best because no one was any better than me.

If Oprah could be a star and have a talk show, so could I. If Maya Angelou could inspire millions with her writing so could I. What seperates the successful people from the people who sit back and dream is the ability to go out and do something about their dreams.

I may not be a baller right now but I have made up my mind that I will be ballin one day. I may not be getting paid millions to speak, but one day I will fill entire stadiums filled with people who need an encouraging word.

How can I dream so big? Why not? Any other successful person is just the same as me, they had to start somewhere.

The only question is how will my story unfold?

Pretty revealing day all around.

I guess I was pissed about fatherhood again today. Show me an all around wonderful father and I’ll give you a dollar. My baby daddy really tried me yesterday. I have the feeling he had “company” when I called him because he knows he dont talk to me like that on a regular basis, he sound like he was showing off.

But whatever. I can take it, at least he’s not as bad as he used to be. Or maybe I just dont care as much.

Just being here and talking to the people here in Miami is discouraging. Most everyone feels hopeless and wants to leave. Everyone points the finger at every other race as the cause of their problems and the funny thing is, there are no white people in Miami.

So we got this intense racial discord between the blacks and the Hispanics. Blacks consider the Hispanics to be crackers now.

“Them Cubans taking over everything!” all the blacks are screaming.

Man oh man. I came to Miami full of hope and excitement and a vision to uplift people. But who would want to listen to me? This city really needs it. No, what they really need is Jesus. Im going into intense prayer for the entire city of Miami. They are hurting and they dont even know why. They have a void that only God can fill.

God, more than money, I want to see these people be fulfilled in you. I want to be ompletely fulfilled in you. Move in this city like a might hurricane. I won’t give up in despair. You sent me here for a purpose. No matter what today looks like, Im going to focus on what you will have for me to do. Send me to that church home where you will have me to grow. Send me those relationships that you have ordained to help me serve the people. Use me Lord. Let me tell the world about you. I’m scared Lord, its a big task.

But nothing is bigger than you.

I saw a dead body yesterday.

I was riding up 17th with my aunt when I noticed the familiar flicker of the yellow police tape in the wind. My aunt shook her head and told me that a young chico had been shot 5 times on the corner of 111th in broad daylight.

We looked through the crowd of people and saw his body lieing on the street beneath a grey sheet.

“That street got to be hot!” My aunt remarked. “They got him lieing on the street in this hot sun all day!”

As our car pulled away I peered through the back window at the growing mob surrounding the scene.

Welcome to Miami.