Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Of Course I Can't Quit You!

My loves, my darlings, my old faithful blog readers!!!

Did you feel abandoned? Forgotten? Discarded? I apologize for neglecting you this way. I have no excuse, just been in my own world and not in the mood to share myself via this platform.

However, I could not let the year end without writing something.

Has 2014 been my best year? Not even close. Has it been the worst? NOPE. And that's what I'm choosing to move forward with: I didn't do it all, but I didn't fall apart, either. And if you're a long-time reader of this site you know that's huge for me.

This year's highlights? Getting more stories published, making my very first (kickass) sancocho & homemade sofrito, and my family vacation in DR over the Thanksgiving break. JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH all knew I needed that injection of sunshine and family. It was everything.

I know, I know: we're awesome!

I'm going to make (the) next year(s) all of that, and then some; have more fun. That's my one and only resolution.



You should all do the same.

*smooches...and hugs on this New Year's Eve*
----------
love someone and mean it, especially yourself

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's A Choice, Apparently.


If only it were this easy. Don't you hate when self-help wannabes tell you this shit? SMH

*smooches...trying to choose happiness*
----------
misery calls me, though. it's my drug!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Calling All Native Brooklynites!

I'm over here making moves, son. Either get on board or get the fuck out of the way. I'd rather you get on board, though.


Spread the word, mmkay?

*smooches...prepping myself for a busy winter*
----------
can't stop, won't stop

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dance Break, aka Jaded Is Off Today

Because I'm at a Yankees game today, (thanks, job I love, for the hook-up), all you're getting is this video of an oldie but goodie:



Hope that booty shake gave you life!

*smooches...avoiding foul balls like a mofo*
----------
actually, none came my way. still.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mari Speaks On...

...dating:

"If I shave my legs and apply lotion the day we hang out, we go together."

File that under #mariskeystodating. You're welcome.

*smooches...sharing important info with the masses*
----------
and this is why I say Mari is crazy

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Else Is There To Say?

I'm sure you're just as inundated with news items coming out of Missouri as I am. Therefore I won't reiterate it here. All this news coverage and updates on social media is making me physically ill. It's 9-11 all over again, and that familiar knot has landed on my chest and won't leave. I suppose the fact that I've decided to stay and fight the good fight, in whatever form that means for me here in Brooklyn, will ease me a bit. Only time will tell. I dropped the ball after that asshole Zimmerman was set free. I won't ever forgive myself if I do it again.

In the meantime, if you, too, are looking for ways to do something- donate to those at ground zero in Ferguson, join local groups to enact change in the laws or in how police are allowed to treat citizens- let me know either in the comments or via email.

(Just a bit of comic relief because LORD KNOWS we need it!)


This isn't a Black thing, it's a human thing, and I'm not going to tell you what to do, but don't wait until the "police" bang down your door and harm your loved ones unjustly before you decide to do something. This affects all of us.

*smooches...trying to find peace*
----------
...first in my heart, then in the world, I guess.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Next Year, The Quinces Will Be In DR

She's so feisty, I can't help but see myself in her and love her to death. And since her sister went off to college, N has become my shenanigans road dawg, and I do believe it's brought us closer.


I mean, listen, instead of telling me I'm uncool or embarrassing, she's usually the first in line to participate in my foolishness. How many moms can say that?



Happy Birthday, my Black Queen-in-Training! I look forward to being by your side as you make this world your bitch!

*smooches...just for my schmoo-pie today*
----------
ain't she grand?

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's My Season Of Doing Tough Things, I Guess.

Committing myself to yoga every day.

Committing myself to my craft and literary dreams.

Committing myself to make my loved ones a priority (I'm struggling with this one, but I promise I'm working on it).

Committing myself to (re)learning the inner workings of this land, and moving toward a better future for my kids. And by MY kids I mean YOUR kids, too. Starting now.

I went to my very first ever vigil-turned-rally on Thursday night, and I'm not sure I can describe it yet. I need to let it sink in and play it over in my head and cry about it and fuss about it, and then the words will come. And since I have this forum, I will share my thoughts then. I can say it was weird to be a part of this, knowing I haven't personally been touched by any sort of similar trauma or injustice. For a person of my brown-ness, I've managed a pretty privileged life. I actually felt like an impostor standing there, so I kept quiet and observed, which, as a writer, I suppose is more my speed.

Still, I'm committing myself to this cause because, unlike my previous mindset, all of these kids could easily be my kids. Or my friend's kids. Or my cousin's kids. So I'm in, y'all. I'm in. I mean, I already loathe The Man, might as well do something about him.

I have such a long road ahead that part of me is all "FUCK IT! We started too late! Just get back on your sofa and watch TV and wait for death!" But nah, I'm going to choose life, and every ugly, bumpy, loud, uncomfortable, tedious, and beautiful thing that comes along for the ride. Not sure what my role will be, where the path will lead, but I will use whatever skills, talents, and resources within my grasp to do whatever needs to be done.



Imagine the stories I'll have to tell my grandbabies!

*smooches...wishing you well on your own journey*
----------
xoxo



Thursday, August 14, 2014

#NMOS14


"Join us as we gather for a moment of silence for those who have been victims of police brutality throughout the U.S. Bring posters and signs w/the names and pictures of victims so that we can remember them and burn them in the conscious of America and the world."

In Brooklyn, there's a vigil planned at Fulton Park Plaza; in Manhattan I know of one in Union Square and another in Harlem. Follow the #NMOS14 to find one in your area. And please, we're all angry, but this is a peaceful vigil to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. Let's keep it that way.

*smooches...trying to hold back tears for the sixth day in a row*
----------
not sure how much longer before I burst


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Musical Interlude For Sanity's Sake

Because if I don't dance these feelings out, you're going to see me on the six o'clock news, atop the clock tower downtown, picking off cops one at a time. Real talk.

Yeah I said it.



Play this on repeat and dance with me.

*smooches...trying to release this negative energy*
----------
I got nothing, man. just let me dance in peace.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sister Summer 2014

Mari and I have been using this title ever since she came to stay with me for a couple of summers while she attended a program at Columbia, and now it's a thing we do.

And so I present to you the latest installment of Sister Summer, in photos and captions.

Mari's new pet, Smokey, who thought
we were BFFs. We're not.
My books and an empty bottle
of wine. Accurate.
I'm wider than I want to be; still cute, tho.
Super cute AND stylish: Jaded Babies.
I don't remember a time when we weren't a foursome.

*smooches...looking forward to many more times like this*
----------
what would I do without these gals?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 10//30 Days Of Yoga: A Healthy Jaded Update

Listen, no one is more shocked than I am that I've gone TEN STRAIGHT DAYS of practicing yoga. Like, I've done yoga at a Yoga People in Downtown Brooklyn, or I've done videos at home when my schedule didn't allow me to travel to the studio. Ten days, y'all. That's longer than most of my post-divorce fauxlationships!

And because y'all know there is no shame in my game, here's me and all my extra weight in all our flexy-glory:

Downward dog


Chair pose; need
to work on my arm
positioning here


Pigeon pose; my
absolute favorite!


Forgot what this one is, but I
don't have full range of motion
anyway, bad back and all...


I'm trying for savasana (corpse
pose) here; K will have none
of it SMH!!


























Definitely looking forward to the next 20 days. I am planning to add in some light workouts before yoga, and then return to socacize at the end of the month. And of course everyday I struggle with my food addiction. Baby steps, you know? I don't want to injure myself, thereby giving me an excuse to quit.

But so far, each yoga practice has left me feeling great (well, except for one, but we won't dwell on that. I think I just had a bad attitude that day) and I love that I look forward to my yoga time every day. I'm especially proud that I've figured out ways to continue my practice even though I'm traveling a lot this month--I NEVER do that.

Look at me, all grow'd up!

*smooches...namasteing all up and through this bitch*
----------
anyone want to join me?

Friday, August 08, 2014

Currently Obsessed With...

...this song and video


...this TV show, because witches!


...this book; you think it's about baseball at first, but it's really abut life.




















What's keeping you busy this summer?

*smooches...off to play more Kes*
----------
their music really is everything



Thursday, August 07, 2014

In Case You're Looking For Me

A lot of you forget to check my site for appearances, and then pull the whole "you had a reading?" schpiel after the fact. Well here's a gentle reminder that I'm actively booking events where I host and/or read, and you need to be in the audience cheering me on.

How can you say no to that face?

That is all.

*smooches...gearing up for a busy season*
----------
it's about to be LOCO!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

So This Is Mavi, My iPhone.

I know, I know, you're reading that title like "OH MY GOD, THE WORLD IS ENDING, RAQUEL HAS AN IPHONE!" but relax. I've not been fully infiltrated by the Robot Army just yet.

Of course my lock screen features my babies!

Let me explain how this all happened...

A few months ago I went into the Verizon store because I wanted to get a tablet or something like it, that I could use when hosting events in order to update various social media platforms with information about said events. The sales rep looked at me all crazy and was all "Why don't you just get a smartphone?" I, in turn, listed all the reasons I didn't want one, including cost (which was my number one reason!).

The rep proceeded to lay out all the costs for me, and it turned out the iPhone he was offering wouldn't cost me more than what I was already paying with my regular phone, plus the phone itself was free. "And why carry three different devices (iPod, phone, tablet) when you can just carry one?"

He was making so much sense; how could I pass up the deal?

So now I have an iPhone. And an Instagram account. And game apps that suck the battery life out of my phone. I can never leave the house without a charger. And the amount of selfies saved in my camera is almost criminal. But I promise, I'm not one of these phone-obsessed zombies; I put mine away and just LIVE sometimes.

At least for now.

*smooches...checking IG as I type*
----------
I'm so fascinated by what people upload to Instagram. Sometimes it's cool, but sometimes, SOMETIMES you hit gold and find that person who is posting pure trash. I live for that person!


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Waiting To Excavate: A One-Scene Play

Friend: Do they make meds for "Shiftless Negro Syndrome?"
Me: No. Scientists are too busy trying to control our wombs to worry about that.
Friend: I need them up out my uterus. They can work on that.
Me: All the way out.
Me: *walks into uterus, sees a bunch of scientists, clergy, and politicians* "Umm, hello? Do I know you? How'd you get in here?"
Them: "The door was open..."
Me: BULL. SHIT.
Them: "It's for your own good"
Friend: *smh*
Me: (as Bernadine) "GET YO SHIT... GET YO SHIT, AND GET THE FUCK OUT!"
Friend: O_O!!! You know she set shit on fire after that.
Me: Mhmm. I'm OK with that. I already had babies.

*smooches...ready to bring this show to Congress*
----------
they'll give me the floor, right?


Monday, August 04, 2014

30 Days of Yoga: A Healthy Jaded Update

So I'm back at it again, trying to take charge of my health and wellness, and I thought I'd start with something that always made me feel good when I did it: yoga.

One day she'll be my personal yogi.

I know a few of my friends are like "Nah, B" when it comes to yoga but for me it helps build my physical, mental, and spiritual being.

Sorry if that got all new-agey. Hope I didn't get any on you.

I started my 30-day challenge on Saturday with a nice gentle flow video by Tara Stiles on The YouTube (because I overslept and missed class), and it wasn't what I wanted to be doing but it did feel good to do it. On Sunday, however, I did make it to the studio (Yoga People in Brooklyn), and first of all SOMEONE FAINTED while we were still in tadasana (mountain pose) practicing our yogic breath. Part of me wanted to leave. Also, I was sweating the minute I got in there and already knew downward dog was going to be a problem, what with my wet palms unable to keep me steady on the mat.

But the good parts were the chanting and super tiny talk the instructor started with; something along the lines of seeing yourself in others in order to be more understanding, patient, and compassionate--all things with which I need help. So it was good to receive that message. Another plus was having options and modifications for each pose. I was never made to feel like I shouldn't be in the class, even though at every step I wanted out because my stupid body won't do what I say. The instructor was great about coming over to help correct your pose and gently guide you into a more challenging one if she felt you were ready.

Fainting girl aside, I was able to fight through the "I'm the fattest, blackest chick in here" fear and just complete the class to the best of my ability. Fuck all those hos, I was there for me.

And although I'm writing this from home because I had to take a personal day because OUCH ALL OF MY MUSCLES ARE AWAKE AND THEY'RE ANGRY, I'll be at the noon class for Day 3.

This is finna be a long ass month...

*smooches...wishing I could just be fat and happy*
----------
unfortunately that combination doesn't work for me.


Friday, August 01, 2014

SON. I Received A Letter From The IRS.

When I say that, upon seeing a THICK envelope in the mailbox from the IRS, my heart was in my throat, I'm not exaggerating. My first thought was SHIT. I'M BEING AUDITED. THEY'RE GONNA SEIZE MY MONEY! Which, of course, is ridiculous because I'm worth about five pesos.

Still, a letter from the IRS can't be good, right? Not a thick envelope--that must mean they needed a bunch of pages to tell me how badly they're about to fuck up my life.

Except that's not what it said.

Y'all. There was an error in my favor. I overpaid the government in 2011.

THEY ARE SENDING ME A REFUND.




Happy Friday, my good people. It's raining freakin' pennies from freakin' heaven!

*smooches...already spending that money in my head*
----------
don't worry, The Voices and I are spending responsibly :)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Where My Tuition Payments Went

ME: someone is trying to get me to watch "Fargo" on TV.

K: Isn't that about wolves? And the wilderness?

ME: No... there's a movie called Fargo with Steve Buscemi but it's not about wolves.

K: Yes! That book, it's a classic, about wolves!

ME (thinking really hard): You mean Call of the Wild?

K: YES! Is it written by someone named Fargo?

ME (googles): NO. It's by Jack London.

K: There's something with an "F" about wolves and the wilderness...

ME: You mean White Fang?

K: Possibly.

ME: How is that anywhere close to "Fargo"?

K: There's a book about wolves! I'm going to find it!

Lord Jesus, help this child of mine. Freshman year has clearly stolen her brain.

*smooches...realizing my kids are me all over again*
----------
can you think of anything scarier??

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So This Happened: "Because Tuesday."

Last night was one of those ONLY IN NY nights that, if you're not from here, you don't know what I mean or how awesome it feels. And let's be real- NYC is turning into one big touristy mall that sickens me to my core, HOWEVER, once in a blue Tuesday, it's old NY where the drinks are cheap and the laughs are plentiful and all the strangers on the street are your new best friends.

And so, to that end, here's a photo I found on my phone this morning, presented without additional commentary or explanation. I call this piece "Because Tuesday."


*smooches...loving NY again*
----------
at least until my bank statement comes in...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I Found In My Purse, Pt. 1

Lubricant.

Let me explain.

After my fabulous reading at Pacific Standard on the 17th, I stuck around with some folks and maybe, allegedly had one too many drinks. When it was clear we'd need food to sustain this level of drinking, we decided to leave the bar. And guess what was near the door? A bowl full of condoms and lube. FOR FREE.

So drunk Raquel decided these were MUST-HAVE items, despite the fact that 1) she's not having sex with anyone and B) she already has about 100 condoms at home (a gift from a cousin; a story for another day).

A week ago or so I had a foggy memory about trying to hand out these condoms and lube to some homeless people on the street, only to have my drinking buddies snatch me up and throw me in a cab with a NO MAS, GO HOME. #Rude.

And now fast forward to last night, I'm cleaning out my tote because it weighs about 15lbs and my back can't take it. What do I find at the bottom? Two condoms and two packets of lubricant. It took me a minute to remember how these got in my bag, but there it is. The story of how I found lube in my purse.

Also? JUST SAY NO.

*smooches...remembering why I stopped boozing*
----------
although the stories are pretty blog-worthy...

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Why It Happen?"

Mari pointed out that I, yet again, have let this blog fall to the wayside. But first...ratchetness...


(Did you ever think you'd live to see the day when a song about oral sex would be allowed in your life?)

Anywhores...

I don't keep a regular blogging schedule anymore. I know. I'm sorry if you were still looking forward to reading this on a regular basis, but, well, life got in the way.

First- there are family things I'm dealing with that are weighing on me, but I was asked not to share one of them publicly, and the other is a rather sensitive topic, so there go those blog posts. Look at me being all appropriate n shit!

I'm also dealing with yet ANOTHER huge financial burden and struggle, but listen--y'all are tired of hearing me complain about my lack of funds, so I won't bore you with it. It's boring. I'M bored with it. Let's move on.

Finally, my weight & health continue to be a huge struggle for me, and that's another topic I'm sure y'all are tired of reading about. I understand now how someone can't quit drinking or shooting up: food is a helluva drug, and I've not found a good enough treatment for my addiction.

So please excuse me if my fat ass chooses to steer clear of your inbox on the regular. I'm not especially proud of my personal life right now.

Professionally, though? I was just published again, so, you know, #WINNING.

*smooches...with a few things to say for now*
----------
will I make it to the end of summer, posting regularly? keep checking to find out :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Countdown To Middle Age

Hello, Thirty-Nine!

Tres leches cake at Sazón that'll make you
wanna slap your momma!

*smooches...enjoying life*
----------
I rarely get to say that and mean it, but right now, I am enjoying life.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Another Door Closes"

One of the hardest life lessons, for me, is accepting that things come to an end: relationships, lives, TV shows, and even access to your favorite Buffalo wing joint. A huge part of me wants to shrink into myself and wallow in it. Cry. Curse. Hide.

I've had to learn that my hesitation to accept these ends is just fear of the unknown. How will I go on if I can't run off to my grandma, sit at her feet, and lay my head on her lap? Or if I can't watch Tessa and Ryan find true love on "Suburgatory"?

I mean, I did stay in a dead-end marriage because I was afraid to tackle this life by myself, but look at me, coming up on eight years as head of household, rocking the hell out of this shit. I'm teaching myself that's OK to feel sad and still leave the house, face the day, have a good time with friends, and enjoy the air that I breathe. It doesn't mean I don't feel what I feel.

Every end and change is going to hurt--it's going to hurt deep--and I will want to cry, curse, and hide, but it will not kill me if I don't let it.



Every day I will make a conscious effort to keep going. Not dwell. Move forward. I'm like a shark in this world, and if I stop I know I will truly die. And frankly that's an end I'm not trying to see any time soon (or ever!).

In the meantime, I'll just find peace in the sweet breeze from an open window.

*smooches...practicing my yogic breaths*
----------
"we're here for a good time, not a long time."

Monday, May 19, 2014

In Case Your Monday's Been Shitty

Feast your eyes on all this beauty:

L to r: Authors Blu Daniels, Rebeca Lucret, Theresa Varela,
Alicia Anabel Santos, and Raquel Penzo. (c) 2014 David Stewart

These smart, talented, GORGEOUS women participated in my Lit Crawl Brooklyn event, "When Brooklyn Was Brooklyn," and will be featured in the book next year. If you missed it you MISSED it, because it was one helluva show.

But at least I'm being kind enough to allow you to gawk at us. You're welcome.

*smooches...busy being a proud "momma"*
----------
for every four "eh" events there's one awesome, and that one makes all the others worth it!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hello, Weekend.

I've been waiting for you FOREVER. The stress of life is trying to kill me. Come, let me nestle in your bosom...



*smooches...hoping Monday takes its time as well*
----------
hope y'all have a good one, too!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

If You Don't Mind...

i'm gonna bathe in this love you've left behind by the bed
i'm gonna use it to rinse my hair; maybe soak my tired feet
maybe soak my tired soul

i'm gonna carry it in a Tupperware in my purse
feast on it on my lunch break; maybe add some pepper
to taste

i'm gonna sit it next to me on the sofa and watch
our favorite movie with it; i'll pop some popcorn and we'll
eat and laugh and

if you don't mind

i'm not going to tell anyone i still love you

*smooches...offering this contribution to Throwback Thursdays*
----------
I don't even remember for whom I wrote this. I must not miss him anymore, whomever he was.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Prefer A Far-Away Crush

That unattainable man in a picture somewhere that I don't know and will never meet? The one with the messy beard and long dreads? With the washboard abs and chiseled everything else? The one who loves to paint and dance and cook and travel the world? Who loves sports and the arts equally? Who cares about me and my work and my family?
 
SOURCE: beardedandblack

 We're perfect for each other in my head.

All others need not apply.

*smooches...indulging in some internet eye candy*
----------
and don't even bother telling me if you know this guy. It ruins the fantasy if I actually have access to him!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Myth Of Motherhood

In typical Jaded fashion, I tend to stay off of social media during big US holidays, because sometimes I just get tired of all the talk about the same damn thing. Mother's Day is no exception. I mean, of course I enjoy seeing photos of everyone's mom--I'm nosy like that--but it's the memes and overly-saccharine status messages that just do me in. Things like "Nothing is more rewarding/important/meaningful than motherhood" or "My mom is my best friend!" or "I'm now complete because I have this child." You get the picture. I hate that shit.

At first I thought "Jaded, that's because you're dead inside" but no, I think maybe some of y'all are a little too obsessed with buying into the Myth of Motherhood.

Being a mom isn't EVERYTHING. It really isn't. I mean, my kids are cool people, were cool from jump, and we have fun together and OF COURSE I care about and love them, but they are not my life. They are my job and responsibility. I brought them into this world and it's now my JOB and RESPONSIBILITY to provide them with the tools they'll need to carry on well as adults. Those tools can include lots of things, but that's basically my JOB and RESPONSIBILITY. I was lucky enough to have cute babies, too, so that made it easy for me to want to do these things for them.

My life, however, is not defined by these girls. And my best friends are adults who are my age or at least in my generation or adjacent. I was not incomplete before having a child. I was actually fine. A little reckless and quite drunk a lot, but fine. When they move on to their own homes and lives, I will be fine, too. We will come together on occasion, eat, gossip, sing off-key, and make fun of people, but we will live our individual lives and be fine.

I honor and appreciate the women who raised me and made it their job to take responsibility for my upbringing, but there is more to life--MY life, at least--than being a mom.

But I'm dead inside, so what do I know.

*smooches...fresh off a smooth gossip sesh with my mom*
----------
what? that's how we bond!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

I Fill This Void

with food.

So much food that it rises up into my esophagus
Teetering at the back of my throat
Threatening to spill out of my mouth

I fill that void
with sex.

Anonymous, no strings, fake names sex
Leaving in the dawn in a cab sex
Never call me again ever sex

I fill this void
with whiskey.

Shots lined up at the bar like chorus girls
Kicking their way down
Jazz hands scratching at my liver

I fill that void
with danger.

3AM alone on the platform
Taunting with my indifference, my apathy
Daring someone to come at me

I fill this void

with you.

*smooches...digging in the crates for Thursday*
----------
this bad poem totally describes my 30s. totally!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

We're All Adults Here, Right?

FRIEND: This is my second attempt at contact. I'm done now. No reply, no goodies. I shall go to the freaky store, lol quench my own damn thirst.

ME: How many are there out there?

FRIEND: IDK I only go to one.

ME: "Hey! Welcome back, [FRIEND]!"

FRIEND: O_O!!! I'm [FAKE NAME] in there!

ME: hahahahaha!

FRIEND: Cash only lmao!!!

ME: #Trife

FRIEND: Prolly

ME: *orders online; plain brown box*

FRIEND: #TrifeLife

*smooches...unapologetically unashamed*
----------
I don't see none of y'all paying my bills OR quenching my thirst O_o

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

It's Not About The Hair

So if we're friends on The Facebook, you saw me complaining about how short my hair is when curly. Yes, the very haircut I was just in love with made me miserable when I tried to 'fro-out. It's so fucking short, y'all. I almost cried real tears. And it was hard for me to understand at first.

Until K was born, I'd always worn my hair short, about ear/chin length. Always. That was just my preference, my look. Short, bouncy hair. Then I stopped relaxing it and grew it out, sometimes down my back, sometimes just to my shoulders, but always long, whether curly or straight. It became my thing. I didn't think it would be a huge deal to go short again, until I stepped out of the shower after my first shampoo since the haircut, and looked in the mirror.

It wasn't until I was getting ready for work that it really hit me, though. It's not about my hair being short--my hair grows fast and I'm sure it will be back to it's regularly-scheduled length by Christmas. It's about my face. My face is different than it was when I used to wear my hair short. Different in a bad way. I came to realize that I just don't like my face.

I don't like the shadows under my eyes or the old blemish scars or that if I stare long enough, one eye is smaller than the other. I don't like this weak-ass chin that is now accentuated by my short-ass hair. I don't like that the weight I've gained has made my cheeks look puffy. I JUST DON'T LIKE MY FACE. I can admit that and still go on with my day, live my life, pay my bills.

Only thing that has my panties in a bunch is that now I don't have all my hair to hide behind.

*smooches...avoiding mirrors these days*
----------
whooo it feels good to let that out...how long til December?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Seen On The Twitter

To All My Exes:


What's truly funny about this is that my exes don't ignore me, I ignore them. Still, if one of them gets too big for their britches, this will remind them LOL!!

*smooches...bringing just a bit of ratchet into your Monday*
----------
listen, that little meme made me laugh so hard, I can't even explain it!


Friday, May 02, 2014

Food Is My Drug: A Healthy Jaded Update

It's only a matter of time before I overdose. And by overdose I mean get diagnosed with something like diabetes or high blood pressure or death. Then I'll really have something to be all upset and mopey about.

Last time I got on a scale, maybe a month ago, I was 200lbs. TWO HUNDRED. Folks, this is not a drill. This is not a joke. Jaded is 200lbs of jiggly fat. And it's all settled in her stomach (boooo!) and tits (oh for fuck's sake!) and ass (finally!).

Booty-licious BUT that stomach, tho!
I cannot stop eating. It's like a vicious cycle: I eat these bad foods with additives that make me crave more bad foods with more additives and when I stop all I can think of is I NEED MORE BAD FOODS WITH ADDITIVES. I'm thinking about it right now. Right now. I'm imagining crispy fried chicken. Or homemade tortilla chips and guac. A trough of guac. And fries. I want all of it. I NEED all of it.

"When's the baby due, Raquel?"
And I know it's the food that has me too sluggish to go work out, keeping me from focusing on my work, writing or relationships. My finances are struggling. I'm finding it hard to "give a fuck." That's what additives do. They're the drug that makes you not care about anything. And I want to care because look at me. LOOK AT ME! I'M HIDEOUS!! I'M A FUCKING WHALE!!!

I look like a block of cheese. Gov't cheese.

I have a plan in place. In my head. Someone come over here and drag me to the gym to execute it, and while you're add it, delete my Seamless account?

This is an official cry for help. Thanks!

*smooches...wondering how long before heart attack*
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it runs in my family. I swore I wouldn't be next. but now, who knows?

Thursday, May 01, 2014

My Favorite "Meet Cute"

I won't say what online dating site we met on because that's a part of my life I'd rather not relive, but we "met" on an online dating site. We were supposed to meet for coffee on a cold January afternoon and I chickened out. Chats and emails followed, maybe some texts, too, but we wouldn't lock eyes for the first time until Cinco de mayo, the night I also happen to be reuniting with Lani after not seeing her in forever.

We were at Puck Fair: me, Lani and Lani's then-boyfriend, Matt. We fell back into our friendship as if nothing had changed, except now we were legally allowed to drink alcohol out in public together. I'd started the night by getting drunk with Irene at Gonzalez y Gonzalez, so by the time I'd met up with Lani, it was a wrap. "D" and I had agreed to meet for a drink; I told him to come to Puck Fair (in case he turned out to be a CRAZY Lani would know what to tell the cops).

Standing by the bar, contemplating some Buffalo wings, light buzz in my head, laughing and talking with Lani and Matt, I feel an arm rest itself around my waist. I was nervous; this was all new. I was happy to be free of my marriage shackles but I'd been out of the game for nearly 13 years. What the fuck did I know about dating?

I turned to face him and looked into the same soft, brown eyes from the picture he'd sent. He smiled at me and his eyes said "thank god you look like your picture, too." I felt relief, relaxed, attraction. The rest of the night is a blur. I think we all hung out for a bit more before parting ways. He'd driven to Puck Fair (Say what, now? Who drives in Manhattan? People from Queens, that's who!) and offered me a ride home. The rest is history, or rather, none of your business.

We didn't survive the summer. The point is the Meet Cute; the butterflies, turning slowly to face him, his soft brown eyes, and a shared smile. I haven't had a story like that in forever. Since D.

Guess I'll just have to write one.

*smooches...inspired by a writing prompt and an awesome Spotify playlist*
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the best part of being a writer is writing your own happy ending, regardless of the crappy reality before you. imagination is everything.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Voy A Reir, Voy A Gozar

So listen. This writing life gets more frustrating by the minute. I keep thinking I'm doing something amazing, and then the support is not there.

I just re-read that line and it sounds like a refrain I've sang before. I have sung this song before! I must be crazy thinking, "This time will be different. This time I will get them to come out and support. THIS TIME FOR REAL."

And then nothing.

I don't even know what I'm doing wrong. Except maybe expecting too much from the same group of people that have already proven to not give a rat's ass for what I do. I need a new song.



That said, I truly appreciate those who do make an effort to support me. I see you! I barely remember what I had for dinner last night but I will always remember who was there for me and who wasn't.

And this isn't me putting a gypsy curse on anyone, this is just me speaking my truth.

*smooches...dancing my troubles away*
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I wish it was last year and I was at Wolf Trap with Mari waiting for Marc Anthony to take the stage. that concert was everything!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Another Friendly Reminder

Today is the release celebration of my reading series' anthology at La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem.

I'd love it if you could all join me!


*smooches...still unsure of what to wear*
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nothing fits and this weather is booty. don't be shocked if I show up in pajamas.

Monday, April 28, 2014

"The Importance Of Kindness"

Sometimes my honesty, disinterest, or introvert-ness is mistaken for unkindness. I promise you, I'm not as mean as you think I am. But in any case, I am consciously thinking about being a kinder person. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm thinking about it.

Here's a jumping-off point for all of us.



One day, I may even think all those pictures you post of your dog are cute. Or actually want to give someone proper directions when they interrupt the soca fete going on in my head on the subway. Or one day, I may actually acknowledge that my ex-husband is a human being with feelings that deserve to be cared after. Or not--let's not go completely crazy here!

Still, maybe a little kindness on my part will bring good energy back into my life. It can't hurt to try, right?

*smooches...thinking tomorrow I might say GOOD MORNING and mean it*
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or not. I have my period, so, you know...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Yes, I Am Very Proud Of My Babies

In another episode of "Raquel Is a Better Parent Than You," below is an email K sent to N's vice principal. It brought a (thug) tear to my eye. Pay special attention to the bold portion; that's where it is evident that she is my child.

Hello Mrs. [Vice Principal],

My name is K. I am N's older sister. I am a freshman at [fancy school that costs LOTS of money] studying Electrical Engineering and Sociology.

When I turned 18, N was very excited because she wanted me to chaperone one of her school trips. However, when I asked about her senior trips, for the only one she will have, chaperones must be over 21.

I don't understand why this age requirement is so high given that I am legally an adult now and I was hoping you could explain it to me. The only reason I would think it would be a problem was if alcohol was involved but this is an eighth grade trip to [typical local senior trip-type place].

I was also hoping that despite it, you would allow me to chaperone the trip anyway. I am very responsible and kids younger than me tend to obey me, so there wouldn't be an issue with that.

I also think that N deserves this, given the amount of ostracization and semi-bullying she has had to put up with for the past three years. I know N really wants to go on this trip but I fear just how much fun she will have when she is constantly excluded from any group activities. She deserves and should have at least one person to have fun with her, who wants to be with her and not just a buddy she's been paired up with. I can be that person since I will be home by then. This will be one of her last memories of this school and I want it to be an excellent one.

N told me that it was the Chancellor's rule though she couldn't explain; I understand if it may not be possible to allow me to chaperone but I am pleading with you to make this one exception.

I apologize for sending this email so late. I am in the last two weeks of classes before finals and as I'm sure you know, it gets very hectic around this time.

Thank you for hearing me out,
K

P.S. I cc'd my mother on this as well. She knows about this situation and will probably want to know what I said.

*smooches...resisting the urge to 'reply-all' with: SHE TOLD YOU!*
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after years of witnessing my "letters to corporate" K really went all in for her first one!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dance Break!

Ever met someone who actually likes their job? I mean, putting aside the fact that they make me wear non-pajamas and leave my house in order to earn a paycheck, this gig I have, well, dare I say, I care about what I do? How many people can say this? I realized I felt this way, just now, and it made me want to dance.



There are a lot of things not-quite-right with me at the moment, but I'm working on not dwelling on that. Not saying it's going well--you know how I love a good woe-is-me session--but I'm working on it. So for now I'm going to focus on the fact that I love my job.

In September, I will have been here FOUR YEARS, copywriting and editing the shit out of things and getting paid for it. That's the longest I've worked anywhere. Look at me, being a grown up!

What's your favorite "happy dance" song?

*smooches...white-girl dancing all over your computer*
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I don't drink anymore, but if I did, I'd demand this song at a dive bar tonight while throwing back a few cold ones!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Somehow We Got This Bad Rep...

ME: But now I also have to get cute for your wedding O_o

FRIEND: Lol it might be in DR. Can we stay at your family's house?

ME: What the...? Is she Dominican?

FRIEND: No. Destination wedding! After knowing you I can't date Dominican women.

ME: LOL wait, what?? What did I do?

FRIEND: You're a special kind of crazy.

I'm not sure if I should be insulted, or proud.

*smooches...with plans to crash the wedding anyway*
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who gon' check me? if they try to stop me, I'll have my uncles shut that whole shit DOWN! lol

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Did You Hear About The Blogger Who Cut Her Hair?

She went from these rich, silky waves brushing her collarbone

Cute look, but done to death!

to sleek strands hugging her jawline

So Fresh & So Clean

And she fell in love with herself all over again.

Shout out to Nina's stylist Katy for making me look brand-spanking-new. Y'all might want to keep your husbands on a tighter leash until my hair starts to grow out.

*smooches...looking in every mirror, everywhere*
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now to make my body match my sassy new look

Monday, April 21, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mari Speaks On...

...her recent trip to Buffalo:

"If depression were a place, it would be the downtown Buffalo bus station. It's #turrible. Imagine a place where the Boulevard of Broken Dreams meets the drop off spot for meth recovery center grads, who stumbled upon some crystal a few hours ago."

*smooches...glad I've never gone to Buffalo by bus*
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although part of me wants to witness this slice of Americana firsthand

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We Want Each Other Oh So Much...

...why must we play this game?

Don't care where we go
I don't care what we do
I don't care pretty baby
Just take me with you...

Sorry, y'all... I just had a Prince moment. He comes over me (nasty!) from time to time and I'll become obsessed with one of his songs to the point that I drive everyone around me insane.

I don't care if we spend the night at your mansion
I don't care if we spend the night on the town
All I want is 2 spend the night together
All I want is 2 spend the night in your arms


Recently it was "Take Me With U" by Prince.


(I had to post this Janelle Monae cover because y'all already know Prince ain't OK with his stuff being on YouTube!)

Damn that was a good song!!! Deny it, I dare you!

I have it on iTunes AND I have the vinyl; that one I play in my room when the babies are gone and it's just me and my thoughts.

Just take me with u
Oh wont u take me with u
Honey take me with u

I'm missing His Purple Majesty's pre-Jehovah days... did you know he won't even perform "Darling Nikki" anymore? Pure sadness.

*smooches...in a sweet, funky groove*
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dare I ask: what's you're favorite Prince song? Or maybe top 5 because who can choose just one?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Day, Another Published Book

Hey SUCKAS! Guess what I just got? THE PROOF TO MY READING SERIES' ANTHOLOGY!



And listen, it's not as hefty as I wanted it to be--people just weren't submitting stuff--I love it. The cover is so snazzy (thanks, Marcin!) and the stories and poems within were hand-picked by ME, so you know it's awesome!

I'm having a book release party on Tuesday, April 29, at La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem.



You should be there for the following reasons:
1. I'm awesome and you love and support me and everything I do.
2. There will be wine.
3. Some truly talented people contributed to this book.
4. There will be cupcakes.
5. You're going to want to take a picture with me + my red-red lipsticked self.
6. There will be wine + cupcakes.
7. My autograph will be worth MILLIONS soon; get it now for free (with the purchase of a book).
8. You can get drunk + eat cupcakes for two hours.
9. My short, "Erasing Cedrick," will rock your socks off.
10. Alcohol + Sugar already RSVPd.

So, see you there?

*smooches...gearing up for bigger things*
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I'm like a shark; if I stop moving I die!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FML: A Healthy Jaded Update

So real quick because I'm SICK of my body being sick... the latest BS my body is putting me through is a vitamin B12 deficiency, which is baffling my doctor because I eat animal protein all day, every day, and supposedly that's where we naturally get this particular vitamin from.

Y U No - Body y u no absorb b12?

Of course I look up what could happen if I just WELPSIES this information away, and WebMD was all


Apparently a severe deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more, according to this article. CHILD, why am I ALREADY suffering from most of those things?!?! I swear, someone is playing a cruel, cruel joke on me...

Next stop on this crazy train I call the Jaded Health Express: an upper endoscopy. More on that hot mess later.

*smooches...wondering how long 'til BETTER*
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it has to be soon, right?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Alien Abductions Are Real

WHO BELONGS TO THESE SHOES? 

WHERE DID THEY TAKE HIM???

The Lonely Shoes (c) 2014 The Jaded NYer

*smooches...getting my aluminum foil hat ready*
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this is not a drill, ladies and gentlemen!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Who Gives A F*ck?

YO! Why did my coworker introduce me to this song? It's a wrap, now, dawg. Come at me with any mamsy-pamsy problem, and I will start singing this in yo' face!



"I don't use the car anymore so I have to use public trans to take N around all weekend..." ::points to video::



"We're out of snack foods." ::points to video::



"I never get to see you anymore." ::points to video::



"Can we send this email out today?" ::points to video::



"Is it too late to sign up for the reading you're hosting tomorrow?" ::points to video::



You get the picture. MAN OH MAN it's gonna be a great spring at Casa Penzo...

*smooches...with no f*cks left to give*
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I feel so ALIVE, y'all!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday, 4.10.14

So there's this thing that Instagram users have been doing for a while now called Throwback Thursday, where you post a pic of yourself from back in the day. Well, I don't have an Instagram account, but I love to share old pics and reminisce about the old days (while sitting in a rocker sipping some ginger tea). We're gonna give this thing a try over here in Jaded-Town, okay?

Here's a photo of Little Mari and my cousins Vanessa and Jorge Luis. If you squint your eyes and look in the back, there's me (in the big ass pink socks) and Nina, sittin' all fancy like we own the park.

Acostas in full chill mode.


I can only imagine this was taken shortly after I first met Nina; I think I was 14 or 15. Socks and watches were my thing--don't ask me why because I couldn't tell you. My mom sent me to Lawrence, Massachusetts to, I suspect, get me away from a certain boy I was low-key dating. It was supposed to be a punishment but SURPRISE, I made a BEST FRIEND FOR LIFE in Nina, and her mom is one of my favorite aunties.

Also, please look deep into Lil Mari's face. You just KNOW she was up to NO GOOD that day!

*smooches...in love with memory lane*
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can I live here forever?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Best Movie Ending Song EVER

If you haven't seen Dazed and Confused, you're a loser, because it's one of the funniest, funniest, funniest movies of all time! OF ALL TIME!

But I'm not here to talk about the movie (maybe later if I decide to start reviewing films again), I want to talk about the soundtrack: chock-full of classic rock, baby!!

I've been known to really get into a groove when "Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo" plays, and please, if you don't drop what you're doing and sing "Cherry Bomb" whenever it comes on, I truly have to question your reason for living. And I mean who hasn't written tear-stained diary entries to "Love Hurts" once or twice?

But this song, this goddamn Lynyrd Skynyrd song that just penetrates my soul and takes a hold of me every-fucking-time, is the absolute most perfect song to play while a movie is ending and the credits are rolling:

Tuesday's Gone - Lynyrd Skynyrd


Don't get me wrong, I like my films to have substance and be witty and well-written, acted and directed, but if it can ALSO have a bangin' soundtrack? Sheeeiiitttt that's the holy grail right there!

...
...
...

OK, OK, stop begging! I'll post a clip from the movie already. SHEESH!

(this is the classic Matthew McConaughey "Wooderson" scene)


*smooches...taking a break from soca*
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I need a bit of something new for a while now that Carnival season has died down

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Translation?

ME: (threatening N): Mira te voy a tirar este zapato en la misma cara, coño...!!!

N: (scared eyes, running) CARA MEANS FACE!

*smooches...still giggling*
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who can stay mad after that?

Monday, April 07, 2014

My Friends Bring Me Peace

Yesterday afternoon I actually left my house, put on a dress and a full face of makeup, took my hair out of their Celie braids, and celebrated the book release of my homie and Fake Dominican sister, Blu Daniels. Her novel, Misconceptions, has been a long time coming, went through a trillion revisions, crossed many agents' and editors' hands and is FINALLY in book form. I'm so proud of her hard work, diligence and determination, and we look so cute when we step away from the computer and clean up for photo ops:

BIG UP BROOKLYN!

I must admit, at the time of the party, I'd only read a few pages of the book. People, I have ZERO TIME for luxuries like reading, sleeping, breathing... but last night, after N went to bed I figured, eh, why not? Let me step away from the computer, put my Spotify on shuffle, and see what the hell this book was talkin' 'bout.

I fell asleep shortly after, but then I woke up at 3am (the lights & music were still on), went to pee and thought, eh, might as well keep reading.

This is how I live my life these days. As if sleep is this annoyance that isn't necessary in my life. Sometimes I swear I need a hot slap right across the jaw.

Anyways, sometime around 7am I had to stop reading to get N ready for school, but for about four straight hours I wasn't checking my email, FB or The Twitter; I wasn't watching natural hair videos or "Golden Girls" reruns on YouTube; I wasn't stuffing my face with non-Paleo bullshit. I was just propped up on pillows, under the covers, reading a book.

It was a beautiful thing.

Thanks, Blu, for that much-needed moment of zen (even if I did crash at 7:30 this morning and was very late for work).

*smooches...just for Blu and her new book*
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in other news, I look like someone's fat auntie in that pic. no more photos until I drop a dress size. that is all.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Back In The Saddle Again: A Healthy Jaded Update

I was tempted to not label this a Healthy Jaded update, because I'm anything BUT healthy. As I type this, my chair is struggling to hold up all 200lbs of me. Yes, 200lbs. Remember when I was so happy to have finally reached the 170s? It feels like eons ago that I wore a two-piece for the first time since my teen years. And now, now I look as if Mari and Irene should be throwing me a baby shower next month.

How did I get here (again)? So many little reasons that basically add up to: I have no healthy coping skills for stressful situations and life's disappointments. For me, it's always food that soothes me, and that can be as addictive and dangerous as whatever the drug du jour is that kids are stockpiling.

I've been here before. 200lbs is always my "rock bottom" where I realize that this could easily double if I don't do something right this minute. I don't want to be featured on "My 600lb Life" or have to show my gut on "The Biggest Loser." I think it really hit me when a certain gentleman caller asked me out and I told him I was too fat to be seen.  Ridiculous, right? But this is where I am.

So now it's time to take action before I end up as the obese, bitter, crazy old lady at the end of the block that kids try and mess with on Halloween. I'm a bit more limited in what I can do physically these days, but my favorite activities are still okay, like dancing and swimming. Yoga...well, my PT was on the fence about yoga, and that made me sad. However, if I can strengthen my core some then MAYBE I'll get the green light to go back in the studio and downward dog my stress away.

In the meantime, I will take advantage of the people around me who live, breathe and eat FITNESS and WELLNESS, and start back on a better path. Forty is too close for comfort; I can't greet it with this fake baby belly.

*smooches...hoping this is the last time I start over*
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my poor body can't take much more abuse!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

I Saw My Ex's Wedding Video On YouTube

No, not my ex-husband--don't nobody give a rat's ass about that marriage (which, by the way, is already over!). But rather the ex that launched me into the blogosphere in the first place. The one I dated the minute after I ended my marriage. The one responsible for The Breakup Heard Around the World.

I won't sit here and lie and say I was devastated or anything, but there was a sense of melancholy. I wasn't sure why at first. As I watched it I smiled and laughed and was genuinely moved by the video, but then I got in my feelings.

I don't miss him. I don't want him. And when he contacted me a couple of years ago to "get coffee" I gave my phone a side-eye and brushed him off. I made a conscious choice not to engage in whatever that cup of coffee was going to entail. Not because I was still mad or bitter but because what would have been the point? We weren't great friends or anything. Nothing was lost after we split.

Now, I will always remember that he was the best lay EVER. As in EVER. As in NO ONE I've slept with before or since him has measured up. He has the game on lock. The rest of y'all should take lessons from him. Seriously. But that wasn't enough then and now, when I really couldn't care less about carnal activities, it's definitely not enough. So it's not about him. I wish him well and hope he'll be happy with his wife (and new baby boy...yes, my stalker skills are top level).

It's more about me being in the same place where he left me--literally. Same apartment. Same financial status. Same health issues and fatness. Same attitude problems and same issues with men and sex. Watching his wedding video and knowing who he was and how much he's (seemingly) grown makes me feel stunted and unaccomplished. Like I didn't deserve the pedestal he had initially put me on. Like I don't deserve the praise and accolades a lot of you bestow upon me today. I HAVEN'T REALLY DONE ANYTHING BUT SURVIVED. And maybe that's enough for some, but it makes me feel like a failure at life.

Everything around me changes and me? I'm still here, googling shit I know I shouldn't be googling, and then getting in my feelings when I find it.

*smooches...deciding not to look up any more exes*
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child if I find out that Mr. Baseball has a wife and baby you may have to come over and sedate me...

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Pretty Ni**as

FRIEND: Look at how cute this guy is:



FRIEND: The only thing is he has intermittent facial hair.

ME: I could look past that, however he looks like the type of negro that will rock your socks off BUT have 30 bitches on the side.

FRIEND: It's the thin nose and lips; untrustworthy.

ME: Mhmm. Pretty ni**as always act up.

FRIEND: Mmhmm.

ME: Don't let him have "good" hair. Sheeeeiiiiiittttttt, you'll only see him every other Thursday, talkin' bout "I'm in the studio, bae!"

FRIEND: O_o That's why I don't deal with 'em. I can't take any dude seriously who would be considered mainstream attractive. Like, if a fine dude try to holla at me, I'd catch an attitude. "The fuck you want?!"

ME: LMAO!!! yeah. I like my black men beaten, bruised and with low self-esteem. I need to be the baddest bitch in this relationship, bruh.

FRIEND: Ma'am!

*smooches...lowering my standards in the name of comedy*
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or am I?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

In Memoriam: RIP Avery Bishop, My LG Cosmos

I guess the day many of you were waiting for finally arrived: Avery gone, y'all, our ni**a dead!

Yes, after about four or five years of loyal service and impeccable performance, my LG Cosmos had to be put down. It was a crazy, hectic Saturday, where things weren't going as planned, no one showed up to my writing workshop and I was on the rag. And then, right in the middle of barely giving a fuck about teaching this class, the screen wigged out. Le sigh. Poor Avery; she tried to hang in there, still taking calls and texts, but in the end we both knew it was time to say goodbye.

I'll never forget her

"Avery wasn't the ratchet type. She never sent X-rated photos and certainly refused to accept them. Once in a while she participated in flirty texts, but her whole purpose was to bring simplicity and order into my life. Occasionally she snapped a shot of a beautiful Brooklyn sunset, or tweeted something witty on the fly, but mostly she kept me connected in the most minimally intrusive way possible. Avery, girl, we've been through it, even a freakin' hurricane, and you never lost connection or battery life. I'm going to miss you."

So, you guys, Avery wouldn't want us to shed any tears. She was a true G that way. Instead, she'd want you all to welcome her replacement, Peter "Petey" DiVoli, my new LG Cosmos 3.

Petey in his fancy grey suit

And be nice, because we suspect he has mob ties, but we were afraid to ask...

*smooches...spillin a lil ginger tea for Avery*
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feel free to leave your memories of Avery in the comments