Developing The Skillset For Success

I spoke to Senator Ob.ama yesterday.

But let me back up a minute…

This past week was a stressful one for me because I knew that I had to make a move. I honestly haven’t really gotten any breaks for the entire month and a half that I’ve been in Houston and I was begining to feel like I made another mistake. I came here for a specific purpose, never thinking that things could blow up in my face, hoping for a chance to lay a good foundation so that I will be able to take care of my boys.

This is a lonely road to take but what else can I do?

I’ve been getting all kinds of criticisms. I try to shake them off but words mean so much to me. I dwell on the things people say and try to correct them if necessary. But I know that sometimes people say things that are meant to break your spirit. I recognize those evil intentions and I am now able to throw their words into the wind.

I got a job offer to work in housing for one of the colleges here. It would mean a great salary and benefits and IMMEDIATE HOUSING for free. I was never excited about it because though it sounded great, I didn’t have peace about it. But I didn’t let anyone know about that.

After completing all the testing, interviews and application process I was sure that I would be moving into my new place by this weekend. I went ahead and told Kia that I was leaving and packed up my car, eager to be able to live and breathe in my own spot.

To my utter surprise I received a phone call on Thursday morning informing me that all of my testing did not clear me for the position and it would be offered to someone else. I sat, stunned in my room. My heart ached under the pressure. JB is gone. My kids are crying to me that they want to be with me. My Babby Daddy is acting immature again. I couldn’t take the physical pressure of working at the Restaurant and I had to leave. My heart is breaking everyday. I have no one to love on me.

This is a lonely road.

I didn’t eat anything for the entire day. I’d think about eating and I’d stand up to go get something but then…I knew I couldn’t. It wasnt worth the effort.

I sat on my bed wondering if the pain in my chest was caused by physical complications moreso than the devastating feeling of being unsuccessful no matter how much effort I put out. Could I be dieing?

My phone rang and I cringed. Uhh… A 713 number. No one I know here calls with anything good to say.

“Hi, Ms. Tee?” a woman’s voice says timidly.

“Yes, this is Ms. Tee.”

“Hi, this is, Juanita, the publisher of the newspaper.”

“Hello, how are you?”

“Would you be free tomorrow morning at 10 am to come in and do a staff interview?”


“Great. I’m sending everyone a link to your online portfolio and oh yeah…after the interview I want you to participate in a live teleconference with Senator Bar.ack He’s invited the Black press to a teleconference. Have a few questions prepared just in case you get a chance to jump in.”

“Sure. Great.”

Uh oh.. I don’t really know anything about this dude. He’s supposed to be running for President. I read about his life but I wasn’t feeling confident about my ability to understand politics and convey a strong message so I did what I usually do when I’m not knowledgable about a topic; I called my smartest friends.

First up was Yolanda, you may know her from her blog. She is a political firestorm and I always learn something when I speak to her or read her blog.

She gave me some direction on how to prepare myself for the interview.

Then I called my ex boyfriend Bernard because he’s the force behind my K.I.S.S. guide to understanding world issues. He laughed as we practiced pronouncing the Senator’s name because I couldn’t get that right to save my life. We came up with a few questions to ask and I worded them the best way I could and emailed them to my phone.

The next morning I went in, prepared but still emotionally distraught.

The entire staff came into the conference room and I sat in the hot seat while they questioned me about my work ethic, my attitudes concerning work relationships and my past experience. IT was a very comfortable interrogation and I felt peace after it was done.

The staff left me to myself as they deliberated and Juanita came back out and ushered me into a back office to participate in the conference.

I was a little nervous as I listened to the Senator answer all of the questions posed. I began to notice that there was a rythm to the process. At any press junket you have to be aggressive and my first two tries to jump in and be heard over the other reporters who were trying to get their questions in weren’t aggressive enough.

Suddenly, there was a noise on the line and everyone got quiet. The moderator asked that everyone mute their phones so they could figure out who was causing the problem. During this moment of silence I heard a man ask, “Is the Senator still listening?”

The Senator replied, “Yes, I’m still here.”

Still silence.

I jumped in quickly. “Hello this is Ms. Tee in Houston, Texas. Senator, how are you? We want to know if you plan to target the Black vote and if so, have you developed a strategy that won’t polarize your white supporters?”

“Hmmm…” The Senator replied, “That’s a good question…”

He then went on to explain some his goals but he didn’t answer the second half of my question so I interjected. “But Senator, what about polarizing your white supporters?”

“That’s enough for today!” the moderator cut in. “Thank you all for your participation.”

The Senator reminded everyone that when he visits their city, he will be sure to give each one of us a 10-15 minute one on one interview.

After the interview, Juanita took me to lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack. She pulled out the first feature story that I wrote for her and at a glance I could see scribbles all over it. I was shocked.

“Now, I noticed a few things about your writing that needs development. In newspaper writing there’s a rythm that you have overlooked. When you are writing your transitions, quotes are stand alone paragraphs. You use the active voice but you should be using the past tense. Also, the lead needs to be redone because it’s dated since you described the cold weather and it’s warm out right now.”

Damn… I was secretly happy to hear all of this. Understand that I love correction if it is presented in a positive way. I’m all about learning and growing as a writer.

“Also,” Juanita continued. “After you did your feature I contacted the people that you interviewed and asked them about how you presented yourself, your line of questioning and your performance.”

Whoa! I didn’t know I was being watched.

“They offered both positive and negative feedback,” she said. “I don’t know how you will take this but they said that you looked a bit too HIP. One source said that they felt like they were being interviewed by a staff writer for Rolling Stone magazine.”

I remembered the outfit I wore to that day. It was my “I’m so fly outfit” my favorite jeans, a funky t-shirt from my last job and a green jacket with my signature cap.” I thought I was cute.

Now I know that I have to change my wardrobe a bit since I’m making the transition from magazines to news. Too bad I gave away all of my suits, except one, after I spent the night at the shelter.

We continued to talk and she outlined my salary and expectations for the position of reporter. She’s training me to become the editor but I still have so much to learn. The great thing about it is, she’s willing to teach me.

“You have aggression and talent and I’m sure we can turn you into a great news reporter,” she told me.

I sat back and thought about everything she said as I took bites of my shrimp scampi. I’m not a news reporter. I’m a magazine feature writer but aint nothing wrong with developing a new skillset. If I try hard enough, who knows where this could lead. I have heard nothing but great things about this woman. But the woman DOES do her homework. She even contacted the publisher I worked for in Miami. When she told me I was floored as I remembered how I loved that job but couldn’t stay because the pay wasn’t enough for me to support my two sons without help from their father.

“She had nothing but great things to say about you,” Juanita told me. “She said that you were quick, bright and aggressive. When I asked her if she would rehire you she said that she would do so in in a minute.”


I knew I had worked hard for her, like I usually do. But I never thought my work was appreciated.

As we were about to leave, she reminded me to make the corrections ot my first article and to have the Ob.ama story in by Monday morning to run in next week’s paper.”

“Is there an angle I’m pursuing?” I asked her.

“None in particular. Just listen to the tape and choose the most pertinent questions with background information to include in your story.”

Oh shit…

This is a going to be a front page headline and my first introduction as a news writer to the city of Houston. I have to make this one good.


When I left I hurried out to meet up with Girl7 who I met at the restaurant. This chick is an artsy fitness instructor who lives by the motto, “I do what I want to do.”

This strains me because she reminds me so much of me and…Damn I’m self absorbed.

After kicking it with her for a few hours downtown, I made the 35 minute trek back to Kia’s house to ask her if I could stay with her for a little while longer until I got enough money to move.

Then I relaxed and fell into a deep sleep.

A sleep so sound that I had no idea Kia had a house full of people this morning.

Man…I have to go write this story now.

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Wish me luck!