45th Labor Day Birthday Celebration

Very early in the morning on Labor Day 1970 in Okinawa, Japan, Velma Roberson woke up and alerted her husband, Karl, that their third (and who turned out to be last) baby was coming. Rushing to the hospital, they saw the MPs (military police) and stopped to ask them for an escort to the hospital. 

Sirens blaring, they arrived at the military hospital in record time where nurses waited with a wheelchair for Velma. About 30 minutes later at 5:56 AM, Velma birthed Teresa Yvonne, three days before her own 30th birthday.
And the adventure continues!

Saturday: Dinner & A Play

1 Jonathan & me

My mother sent me a small package with a long black dress and a fancy colorful top a few days before my 45th birthday. Wonderful! Now I didn’t have to decide what to wear for two out of three days of my long weekend birthday celebration.  Of course, I wore my tiara all three days.2 pasta cabanara On the first night of celebration, I invited friends to meet me at a small theatre/bar complex, which rented space to a most delicious Italian food trailer.  Don’t let the paper plate and plastic cutlery fool you: this food was ridiculous!  I braved the “coddled” egg. The creaminess of a raw egg made risking salmonella worth it.3 Jon Rob & me Two friends met for dinner and of all things we could have talked about during this festive occasion, I chose to regale them with some factoids I learned from Orlando Patterson’s Slavery and Social Death. Perhaps the greatest unknown fact to me was that the British carried over 15,000 American slaves back with them when they lost the revolution since they’d promised them freedom for fighting with the red coats.4 Lisa & me Another friend showed up, but only for the one-women show. Even though she’d missed dinner, she bought me a second goblet of Malbec.  I’m not sure if the venue always pour that much or we were fortunate to have a heavy-handed bartender that particular night, but I had no complaints!4.1 Jon & me after show We waited after the show, to congratulate the one-woman performer herself, who’d blown us all away. Granted, she’s the three time national female slam poet. I informed my friends this would be the last time we’d be lucky to see her perform for a mere $10.5 Ebony & me

Of course, I had to take a picture with the artist herself. I want the world to know I knew her before they did! I congratulated her for much deserved success. It’s challenging enough to live through what she had and another thing to invite family, friends and strangers in to witness a poetic summary of it.

Sunday: Open Mic Night

6 1st pair of bc glasses Several of my poet friends participate in a Sunday open mic from 7:30 to 10 PM. One friend in particular, carries a small bag of reading glasses. I told him I was officially ready for my first pair of “cheater readers,” as my latest eye doctor called them.7 2nd pair of bc glassesAlthough both pairs made the print world easier to read, I thought these were less birth control looking than the other pair. The best part was these fit comfortably over my regular glasses when my eyes tire at home.
8 3 meat trio pizzaI certainly didn’t need corrective lenses to see this gorgeous meat trio pizza and glass of Malbec. Yet another Italian dish for the second celebration of my birthday.
9 dedicated song This young singer dedicated a Beyonce song to me.10 bd song Then another poet friend and the open mic hosts led the room in singing “Happy Birthday” to me. The hilarious part came when only 5 people knew my name.  The hosts had been referring to me as “Birthday Princess” the whole time up to that point.11 ying-yang cake Another friend split the infamous “ying-yang” cake with me, which was a chocolate-rich and creamy dessert one should only eat once a year.12 me reading Wearing my princess tiara and mother-gifted girlie top, I read one of my infamous classics: “How Men Blow Fellatio.”13 Joe & me dancing

Afterwards, I back led another poet through a slow dance while a saxophonist played.

Monday: Detox & Retox

14 Allyson Lauren & me I only had three brave friends who said they’d detox with me on Labor Day at the free 10 AM bikram yoga class prior to brunch. Merely one friend had arrived by the time we posed with the instructor for a “before” picture.14.1 after yogaHowever, everyone was present for the “after” picture.
15 brunch Joined by two more friends, a fabulous all-you-care-to eat buffet and the most impressive collection of tequilas, we had a terrific time retoxing.15.1 Suli & meWe started with a mimosa, two of which, came with our buffet. I’d eaten brunch here several times before, but I’d never known there was an option of three fruity flavors: orange, cranberry and pineapple. I started out with pineapple and followed up with cranberry.15.2 Allyson's tequila flight One friend, who arrived by bus so she could fully enjoy the whole retox experience, ordered a tequila flight.16 dessert I’d saved a tiny bit of room for dessert: a churro, ice cream and cherry cobbler.17 bd shotAfter dessert, our server asked me if I liked “sweet” and “chocolate.” Of course I answered “yes” to both questions. Moments later, she brought out a chocolate infused tequila. At that point, my friends sang “Happy Birthday.”
18 bd danceOne friend followed up with Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday;” so I chair danced to it.
19 drinking poseFinally, I got to sip my drink. That’s right, sip! I’d lived in Mexico for three years and never once saw a Mexican shoot tequila. They sipped and enjoyed their drink like cultured people. (I love how the guy in the background does not look the least impressed.)

The Aftermath

20 whiteboardI’d written this message on my white board, alerting my Adult Basic Education students to the fact that school was closed on Monday. Although most people assumed Labor Day had given us the long weekend, my students were privy to the real deal. When I returned to school on Tuesday, I had a post birthday wish. As much as I love having a day off, the rest of the week was thrown off.  Thank goodness the weekend wasn’t too far away.

Categories: Special Events | 1 Comment

Painting #16: It’s All About the Benjamins!

On the wall I think one of my new painting mantras should be “when in doubt, stencil it out.” I combined many stencils for this painting. My motto for this painting definitely has to be “it’s all about the Benjamins!” Those century notes in the corners were only possible thanks to stenciling.  I can scarcely paint something that looks half way decent the first time around, much less four times.

In the opening scene of this chapter of The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa, the twins argue about being an entrepreneur versus being an employee. Negativa’s argument is that they learned all the economics they needed as strippers. Infinity’s argument is no matter how a woman makes money, she has to be the boss.
Sweet 16This painting marks the 2/3rds point in the series. My deadline is to complete the rest of them before the weather’s too cold to go on the balcony and paint. Some days, that seems like a reasonable expectation. Yet, recently other things have taken attention away from painting, delaying my prepping of the 17th painting. Just a hiccup, I’m sure. The remaining eight paintings are going to be a bit more challenging. At least I already have the stock photos I need in order to sketch out the scenes. I’m especially eager to use more stenciling since it improves the overall aesthetic quality of the canvas.


Categories: Painting | Leave a comment

Wine & Tapas

1 wine shot demo This month’s cooking theme for a meetup I’m a member of was the first of many I’d brainstormed in the middle of bikram yoga class. After nearly two years of cooking different ethnic foods, I thought it was high time we branched out a little more. Technically, “tapas” is a Spanish tradition, but we didn’t confine ourselves either to Spanish wine nor Spanish food, especially me.

A few months ago, I’d tried “Cabanero,” a delicious blend of a cabernet infused with habanero peppers. Not wanting to waste such a deliciously spicy wine on tender-mouthed people, I’d cut long colorful straws into 4-6″ sampling straws and submerged them into a shallow glass half-filled with cabanero.  I got everybody’s attention and showed them how to take a sample.

Pictured to the right of the straw-filled wine glass was the “tapa” I brought. I’d sliced Granny Smith apples into disks rather than wedges and brushed a generous amount of fresh lime juice onto every cut surface. Then I put a blue cheese spread on them, which consisted of blue cheese, cream cheese, chopped green onions and walnuts. Very simple. Turns out, this was the first time other people actually wanted the recipe for something I’d bought. All these other times, I’d taken so much time to create more complex dishes. Never again!
2 wine shot The novelty of both a spicy wine and sample straw delivery turned out to be a fun party favor. And here I thought I was being practical. Not that I’m complaining. 3 dinnerOnce again, the variety of food and people blended beautifully. I always opt to eat in the dining room since I don’t have one at home, but the rest of the group were in the TV room, which was where we all gathered after the fact to vote on the next theme.  Despite all the wine that had been consumed, no one thought “Ramen Noodle Challenge” nor “Healthy Diet” were good foodie themes. We agreed on “Brazilian” for the next time. I’m going to find the simplest Brazilian recipe and see how big of a hit it’ll be!

Categories: Cooking | Leave a comment

Water Hiccup

The uncontrollable spray of water from a partially buried pipe behind the leasing office in my apartment complex foreshadowed the water shutoff in my apartment. Nonetheless, I made no effort to save any water in large pots. Instead, I brooded about how much more I’d have to pay for water in October.

shutoff notice

Unbelievable. I used to pay a mere 4 cents/month for water. Then, it jumped to $11 and has been increasing every month. I cannot remember the barely logical explanation the leasing agent told me about the city charging us for some water emergency/crisis/overhaul ten years back, which was when I used to live in Mexico.  Close enough, I guess. All I know is the situation hasn’t been remedied. For September, I get to pay nearly $20 for water. Lord only knows how much it will be for October.

Still stewing in my juices, I entered the kitchen to rinse out my wine glass. A metallic choking sound of pipes delivering no water gushed forth. I’d consumed 2 1/2 glasses of wine and knew I was in no shape, mentally or physically, to make the short drive to the grocery store to buy a large container of water. I used to keep such a container on hand until a few months ago when the damn thing developed a slow leak since I hadn’t had cause to use it.

In lieu of purchasing water, I brainstormed an alternative. Ice. With nothing to lose, I filled two drinking glasses and a plastic 5-cup measuring cup with ice cubes. I set the glasses on the counter, figuring I’d be thirsty once they melted. I placed the measuring cup in the microwave. For the record, I knew it wouldn’t work, but still I needed to reconfirm that ice cubes don’t melt in a microwave. What melts is the substance the ice cubes are submerged in, which in turn melts the cubes, but not the microwavable container itself.

I carried the ice cube-filled measuring cup to the bathroom. After using the toilet, but not flushing (if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down), I pumped some liquid soap into the palm of one hand, picked up an ice cube with the other hand and preceded to wash. Great idea except I used far too much soap. The rubbing friction helped melt the ice, but both the ice and soap made the effort nearly impossible due to the slipperiness. A few minutes after the fact, the water came on. My hands were already clean, but sore from scrubbing them with ice.

A few nights later, one of my downstairs neighbors knocked frantically on my door. A stream of water poured into her apartment via the bathroom.  I let her in to witness no water ran or leaked from my bathroom. After she left, I filled up several pots with water.

Days afterwards, very little hot water flowed. I turned the knob off, but a thin stream still trickled out. I had to turn off the water completely from underneath the sink. Fortunately, I went to work a few hours later. All was restored to normal once I returned from work.

Nonetheless, I feel there’s some water issue just percolating. Once again, I probably won’t have any water stored up for the occasion.

Categories: Special Events, Writing | Leave a comment

Ch. 15 Painting from The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa

Day 12

It’s hard to believe that 13 months have past since I completed my last painting. The long hiatus arose because I nearly painted myself into a corner. The paintings in this series represent the opening of each chapter from my second novel, The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa. Periodically, I’d overhaul the manuscript. What I discovered after completing chapter 14’s canvas was I couldn’t change those chapters around because I’d have to rearrange the order of the paintings. Since I’m an amateur painter, the quality of the canvases have improved greatly with each one.

An artist friend of mine tried to cheer me up by saying I was probably my own worst critic and no one else would probably notice. I’m the only one who needs to notice! I still revamped the manuscript, leaving the opening scenes, which corresponded with the paintings, intact. In retrospect, I should have waited until the manuscript was completed before painting the first canvas. Yet, it’s difficult for me to put a good idea on hold.

I got back into the groove of prepping this canvas, but forgot to apply tape prior to laying the baseline paint.  I realized too late, but I think the mistake adds another dimension to the waves. For an opening scene about waves, I could have made them even bigger.all 15The 15th canvas has more subdued colors than the rest. That works for the storyline since it follows the chapter where the main character experienced a temporary death. The next one, which I’ve already started prepping, will have more suggestive subject matter and bolder colors. After all, the main character now has a new new purpose in life after her near death experience.

Categories: Painting | Leave a comment

Abstract Art Opening 2015

1 opening scene One of my favorite local art galleries had an opening reception on a day I actually had nothing planned. Disregarding my first impulse to go alone, I turned this into a meetup outing. Although four other people were supposed to join me, I knew to expect just half of them. I was rather impressed that the two who didn’t show up actually changed their reservations ahead of time.

I arrived at the venue much earlier than necessary. I like to avoid being a hypocrite. When hosts are late and/or not visible when members arrive, a lot of confusion and bad vibes start off the night. The two women who made it had no trouble finding me since I messaged I’d wear a fuschia dress and would probably be the only black woman with dreads.2 painting I do not understand abstract paintings although I like bright colors, especially red and purple.3 red!Yet how does one tell a good abstract from a bad abstract? 4 Bob's Is it purely emotional response when you first look at the painting?5 Bob w painting Fortunately, one of the featured artists was present to answer questions. I asked him a tough one right off the back. “How does one understand this genre?” He smiled and stated that the way he understands it is to  start painting and continue until he considers a canvas “successful.” He admitted that most of his aren’t, but he either starts all over by painting over the failures on getting a fresh canvas.

Then he gave an intriguing response about how every painting is a conversation. When I asked him if he remembered what he was thinking or how he was feeling while working on the painting I snapped his picture with, he said no.6 Fav acrylic painter In the back corner, past all of my beloved Dr. Seuss art, lay a treasure trove of bright, texturized acrylic paintings. Of course I loved all the red and flow, which made me readily forgive it was acrylic. Not my preferred medium to paint in, but I can certainly appreciate the over-the-top talent of the artist.7 another acrylic Truly, what landscape art should be: bold, thought-provoking, narrative-inspiring.8 Jack I normally don’t spend too much time looking in the movie poster section, but here’s one of my all-time favorite actors on Spanish translated poster.
9 Asian fusion restaurantOnce we toured the entire gallery, we didn’t want the conversation to end. We all hopped into our separate cars, and met up at a string of little restaurants and coffee shops which shared a back patio. Believe it or not, the heat and humidity actually allowed us to enjoy the moment.

Categories: Special Events | Leave a comment

Ch. 14 of The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa

Day 7

This painting comes from chapter 14 of my second novel, The Adventures of Infinity and Negativa. At the end of the previous chapter, the main character, Nuru, has just drowned in the Caribbean Ocean, off the coast of Honduras while attending a 24-hour, underground music beach party. The title characters, Infinity and Negativa are twin fantasy mathematical sisters who reside in Nuru’s head. The twins, who always start off every chapter, experience, debate, and riff their own scenes based on Nuru’s reality. In this painting, only their silhouettes are shown. Infinity has the waist-long dreadlocks and Negativa wears an Afro.

“Where are we?” Negativa asked.

            Infinity slowed down her random spinning along three axes. “We’re in the quantum matrix of choices.”

            Negativa frowned. “Quantum? As in ‘How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics’?”

            Infinity chuckled, which increased her spinning. “No, although that pi mnemonic does use the word ‘quantum.’”

            Negativa shrugged her shoulders in confusion.

            “Each word in that sentence contains the same number of letters, representing the first fifteen numbers in pi: 3.14159265358979.”

            “Enough with the mumbo-jumbo. Just take me back to Sunjam.”

            Infinity raised her hand and illuminated the twelve pathways leading back to the beach party. “You have all these variations to choose from.”

            “What are the outcomes?”

            Infinity wagged her finger. “We’re not allowed to know the outcome before we take the pathway.”

            “That’s a load of crap.” Negativa narrowed her eyes. “How do humans decide?”

            Infinity’s spinning angular velocity sped up as she lost control. “You want to know human opinion?”

            “I know they’re a bunch of fuckwits, but how do they go about choosing a pathway?”

            “Well, some are so controlled they make very few of their own choices, others avoid choosing their own pathways at all costs. A few analyze patterns, then decide, while many analyze then pray for divine intervention to help guide them.”

            “In other words, they’re irrational. Just as I’ve always thought.” Negativa cocked an eyebrow and put her hands on her hips. “I’m taking this pathway.” She slid back to the beach.

            Infinity stopped spinning and followed her sister.


Nuru’s eyes bulged open and she spat up puke. Homero turned her on her side. Ocean water and vomit stung the back of her throat.

“Welcome back to the land of the living.” He rubbed between her shoulder blades until she finished coughing.

The small crowd applauded. Through the spaces between various pairs of legs, the ocean, which had swallowed her whole, mocked her distress with its tranquil lapping against the shore. She put her head between her knees, more to hide her face than to breathe easier.

“What’s going on?”

Nuru’s head snapped up. The ferocity of Strug’s expression, directed at Homero, softened when he switched his attention to her. She reached up to embrace him. He bent down to hug her.

Strug whispered, “It’s OK, baby.”

“I’m hungry.”

“I’ll take you back to the hammock and bring you some food.”

Her heart seized. “No, don’t leave me. Let’s go together.” She stood on shaky legs. Strug’s strong arm secured her.

“Take good care of our girl,” Homero said to Strug.

Strug’s arm flexed around her torso. “I got this.” He parted the crowd, divided the beats within the music, and made room for her to exist.

With slacken jaw and unfocused eyes, Nuru put one foot in front of the other within the protective bubble. The presence of her pendant comforted her. The surrounding commotion blurred by at a hundred kilometers per second as she drifted through it. Strug guided her to sit down and handed her a plato tipico.

His hands enveloped the sides of her face. “I’m going right over there to get lemonade. You can watch me the whole time, OK?”

She nodded. He kissed her forehead and joined the drink line.

“Aw that was sweet,” Lauren cooed, startling Nuru. “Damn girl, what the hell happened to you?” She sat down and picked debris out of Nuru’s hair. “Can I have some fries? Thanks.” She stuffed a few into her mouth.

“You…did…this…to…me.” Nuru’s words dragged out.

“Did what?”

“Tried to kill me. What did you mix in with that herb?”

Lauren screamed laughing. “Girl, if I wanted you dead, you wouldn’t be sitting here alive.”

Nuru broke a small piece of grilled meat and wrapped it into a torn piece of tortilla and nibbled.

“You definitely look like you’ve returned from the dead, though.” She helped herself to more fries. “Y’know that man of yours is something else.”

Hotness rushed through Nuru. Rapid blinking cleared the fog. “Is that what this shit’s about? You want my man?”

“Hmpf! Y’know I’ve learned the hard way that men are a dime a dozen. Money, on the other hand, that’s what makes things happen.”

“I don’t owe you anything.”

“That’s what you keep saying, but I don’t remember ever turning you away in your times of need.”

“So much for that. I ended up dropping out of college anyway.”

“All the education you need, you learned on the pole. We both did.”

Nuru shot a glance to Strug, who’d struck up a conversation with the other people in the drink line, then back to Lauren. “There aren’t any poles on this island.”

“Everything’s a pole. Haven’t you learned that by now, Miss College Dropout? There’s always pussy for sell.” She seductively circled a crisp French fry around her mouth before biting it in half and winking at Nuru.

Strug returned to the table with three large plastic cups of lemonade.

“Thanks. Just what the doctor ordered.” Lauren reached for a cup, gulped half of it down, and then stood up. “Well, I’m off to go with the flow. Catch you later.” She patted Nuru on the head and blew Strug a kiss.


Categories: Painting, The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa, Writing | Leave a comment

Retreat 2015

I’ve never worked for a school, business or organization that ever sprung for a retreat until now. Of course, the morning consisted of a series of workshops, which actually flowed by rather quickly. The first one was a 4-minute powerpoint presentation by a representative from each of the programs in our coalition.1 clay frogThe assistant program director with whom I work went first and ended exactly at the 4-minute mark with the video that I successfully embedded. Yet my second favorite presenter passed around a plastic bag, essentially representing “a mixed bag of tricks.” She invited us to pick out whatever we wanted.  I liberated a small canister of hot pink clay and immediately started rolling it in my palms to soften it up. As I worked the clay over, I reminisced about the days when I taught preschool and then molded the clay into a frog’s head just like I used to do back in the day.
2 my motivation drivers Then the executive director reviewed employee survey feedback about how the organization was doing 6 months after the merger. Most of the cherry-picked responses were positive, including one of my quotes.

Next, a motivation expert had us go through several motivation driver cards and methodically pick out six of them.  Once we were done, he asked us to kick out one card, then order the remaining five with the most important card on top.  “Autonomy” topped my list since it represented of the totality of everything I want out of life. The rest fleshed out my autonomous nature.3 Lake Marina

Ending exactly on time, we all made haste to a marina on Lake Travis–about an hour away.4 Lake Marina Totally worth it! This would be the closest to a beach I’d see this summer.5 Lake Marina

I’m glad that in my middle-agehood, I wear sensible shoes since the incline was no joke with trip-enhancing steep steps and loose gravel.6 party boat Our party boat was a double decker.7 drinking circle Once the boat started moving and we finished eating, most of us went above deck.8 scenic outlook I’d never been out on Lake Travis before. Friday was the only day predicted to rain–only 20%. Fortunately for us, the odds were in our favor.9 bee on my neckThis past Independence Day, I discovered the hard way I didn’t have a bee sting allergy. I blogged about how I still retained a healthy respect for bees and would continue using gentle, nonaggressive tactics to deal with them. Since I put that out into the universe, I was not surprised when a coworker warned me I had a bee crawling on my neck.10 bee in my hair I passed her my phone so she could take a picture. As she took pictures, she marveled at how calm I was, all the while panicking I’d be stung. The bee traveled along my neck, inches above my recent bee sting, behind and around my ear, which tickled, but I resisted. By this time, another coworker who sat on my right saw the bee walking along my scalp then upon my locks. I handed him my phone.11 bee in my hair At this point, I asked him to blow on the bee in order to get rid of it. Apparently the bee had a good toe hold into my locks. Moments later, the bee flew away, which was the best scenario since I’d thought it would drown once I slid into the lake.12 docking siteWe docked in a beautiful area, but had to wait a few tantalizing minutes before the slide was ready.
13 boat slide This picture does not exaggerate the steepness of the slide. I accelerated into the lake as if on a roller coaster. I’d slid down with a noodle around my shoulders, which served me well in the lake. Although I can swim, floating was so much better. Several coworkers chose to float and drink. We still got our exercise, thanks to the current. Since we all drifted out at the same rate, we didn’t notice how far we’d floated away from the boat until we looked.14 meEveryone noted how tiring swimming was.  Funny how kids never comment on such things! I was happy to continue my Friday tradition of wearing my bathing suit under my regular clothes.  Yet, we could have left an hour sooner since I truly jonesed for a nap. The smile shone here was absolutely genuine–we were headed back ashore.


Categories: Special Events | Leave a comment


Around the turn of the 21st century, a bee stung me. My entire right hand swelled. Mom recommended I make a paste out of meat tenderizer and put it on my affected hand, but a few sun salutations had a more dramatic effect. The extra fluid pulsed and coursed through my lymphatic vessels during that yoga warm up. My hand looked normal the next day.

Friends concluded I was allergic to bees. Without ever consulting a doctor for an allergy test, I believed I was allergic to bees. This first time had warned me. The next time would put me in anaphylactic shock.  I went to a drugstore to buy an epi-pen. I couldn’t believe that lifesaving device needed a doctor’s prescription.

Stubbornness prevented me from seeing a doctor. Instead, I’d spend the rest of my life avoiding bees. When among fools who weren’t allergic to bees, but chose to swat wildly at these insects, which ironically increased their probability of being stung, I sat very still and calmly, but firmly asked them to stop, explaining my allergy.

The only upside to fear is respecting the source. Whenever I was outside on a warm sunny day, I kept an eye out for bees. I stopped wearing perfume unless I was going out at night. I took a longer route to avoid visible bee activity. I gently blew them away when they landed near or on me.

Independence Day 2015 rolled around. One of my nieces had been visiting me for the week. We’d just left touring the LBJ Museum and started eating our burger, fries and malted shakes outside a local fast food joint. Absentmindedly, I brushed away something tickling my neck with one hand while holding my cheeseburger with the other. The scratch from my fingernail startled me. I inspected my nails and there weren’t any jagged edges. I rubbed the sore spot on my neck with growing awareness of what must have happened.

I asked my niece if she noticed any swelling on my neck. She didn’t. I breathed slowly and deeply, not wanting to alarm my little niece, while my mind raced. I casually looked up the symptoms of anaphylactic shock on my phone. Slow connection. I went to the bathroom to inspect my neck. No mirror.

Trying to sound normal, I told my niece I was going to the car to use the mirror. By this time, I saw a small red spot. The combination of heat and panic caused me to sweat. I felt a trickle between my breasts. I pulled my top out in order to wipe the sweat before it soaked my shirt and a bee flew out.

With visual confirmation, I gathered up my niece, hopped in the car and searched for a pharmacy. We never saw one until we reached the grocery store where I normally shopped. I walked a little faster than usual, making a beeline to the pharmacy.  Fortunately, there was no line.

The pharmacist on duty recommended taking two benadryls, but took an agonizing amount of time telling me how long anaphylactic shock would kick in. Apparently, 30 minutes was considered “rapidly.” Since I hadn’t started coughing nor experiencing breathing problems at that point, I started to rethink my alleged bee sting allergy.

For less than $2, I got far more benadryl pills than I ever hoped to need in this lifetime. I popped two prior to driving straight home to sleep off the drug-induced drowsiness. Before falling asleep, I thought of all the unfinished things in my life, my visiting 16-year old niece, all the years I’d lived with the fear of being stung by a bee…

Despite all the research I’d done about having a deadly reaction to bee stings, I’d never read that swelling around the sting area was a normal reaction. Until that day.

On Independence Day 2015, the US celebrated our 239th  freedom anniversary and I personally celebrated  independence from my paranoia over dying from a bee sting. I still respect bees. I still believe in a gentle response when one buzzes near me. I no longer fear them.


Categories: Holidays, Writing | Leave a comment

What Are the Odds

Welcome back!

We are all winners! Born into this world already having defied tremendous odds. Don’t believe it? Consider this: healthy men can ejaculate between 40 million to 1.2 billion sperm cells and healthy women will ovulate between 300 to 400 eggs during their reproductive lifetime; so the fact that we’re all here means we’ve already beat incredible odds.

Still not impressed? How about out of all the 1700 planets that NASA scientists have discovered, only Earth has life? There’re only four others among them that scientists suspect may have the “Goldilock conditions” of liquid water, conducive atmosphere and a comfortable temperature to support life.

With the improbability of ever having popped into existence, all we have to do is keep the momentum going and make the most of this journey.

Odds are we’ll fall in love and have our hearts broken. We’ll say mean things in a fit of rage. Then apologize later in a fit of regret. We’ll cry for joy and due to sadness. We’ll breathlessly boast about our swashbuckling adventures and times that took our breath away.

We’ll experience déjà vu, motivating contemplation about past lives, third-eye clairvoyance and wormhole time travel. Other experiences will be what George Carlin called “Vuja de,” the eerie feeling that none of this shit is familiar.

We’ll defy some odds while trending within others. Thanks to the inviolable Law of Probability, smart criminals will eventually get caught and dumbasses will sometimes get lucky.

Throughout life, we’ll gamble, risk, advance, retreat—always toward a moving target with ever-changing odds. Circumstances in flux. As soon as we know the answers, the questions will change. As soon as we change, we will be questioned.

Navigate. Celebrate. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Always remember what it took the universe, time, space and the genetic probability of sexual reproduction to pop you into existence—for a limited time only.

Never allow anyone to make you feel bad about how old you are. The fact that you’re aging means you haven’t died yet. And while you’re still alive, live it to the fullest. Negotiating through life’s probabilities: health, financial, social, political, sexual, existential.

Everything’s merely a casino game of chance. Life’s not turned out the way you hoped? Perhaps you’re playing with trick dice, marked cards, or rigged slot machines. Or maybe you’re going for the nearly impossible. After all, there are only 4 ways out of a possible 2.6 million 5-card combinations to get a royal flush.

The real trick is playing the hand you’re dealt and the other players. How good is your hustle? Turn the music up loud get your hustle on!



Categories: Writing | Leave a comment