How To Live A Life (or Write Your Own Obit)

2020 was a bit of a sickest for all of us. Specifically, towards the end, I felt like 2020 had my arm twisted behind my back and me pressed up against a wall. It kept saying things like, “I’m not done with you yet. I’m not done making you miserable.”

I lost a cousin. She killed herself and planned her own funeral. I lost a great aunt, who-after her sister died-just seemed to let go. She was always a spunky one-even spunky than her sister-the feisty one-but I will miss her anyway. She made a fool out of my ex husband, so she wins all the prizes.

Now, it’s 2021, which is saying to 2020-“Bitch, hold my beer.” I’m in the bed, weighing 20+ more pounds than I ever have in my life. I’m actually bigger than when I had all three of my kids. And I have a wipe off board where I wrote-for inspiration-“Good morning, Tracy! Are you still fat? Are you gonna workout for 10 minutes today?” It’s worked for me because of my family. My sister and I do a check in to make sure each is up and doing something-riding a stationary bike, yoga, walking…anything. My mom has joined us, so now, we have a little good morning group. I look forward to getting a text giving me a briefing on how we are working ourselves out…inching towards either death or smoking crack for some fast weight loss. (I kid. I don’t drink or do drugs. Not much of a party-er. I think I got it all out of my system when I was younger. I know I’m paying for it now.)

But none of this is the point. Let me shuffle on-I’m in the bed, listening to Dustin O’Halloran play “Opus 20” on the piano and my mind wonders. I’ve read some fellow horror writers works and I got to thinking, how would I want to be remembered? I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, actually. When things don’t go my way or I get so many rejection letters, I’m only human-I get a bit sad. Then, thinking about doing even more work becomes overwhelming-so somewhere, I’m a shivering mass of pudding watching something stupid on Netflix-I’m working on the overwhelming with my therapist. It’s a new thing for me.

It got me to thinking, how would I want to be remembered? What if I wrote my own obituary, posted it up and tried to live my life…a bit backwards. Look at all the things I’ve wanted to achieve and work now to get to that point. Octavia Butler did something similar but I’ll just link it. She wrote what she wanted to achieve, then she did it. Have a look at it here.

How would I want my obit to start? Something like this, maybe:

I told you bitches you would miss me when I’m gone. Now, who are you going to call up when you can’t remember that movie or that group that wrote that song that went…dah dah dee…I also told you that it would be a fun ride. Hopefully, it was and I hope to never come back. (A little Frida Kahlo there…)

Then, I can write about my kids-who would not be happy at being mentioned, so I’ll just give some initials and pretend: Tracy is survived by her children-a female head of a major accounting organization, international artist son, known for his strikingly beautiful portraits of people and places and her genetically enhanced daughter that works in a restaurant but should have been a singer.

Let’s add other family, maybe: Sister #2, World Renowned Poet Laureate, winner of so many poetry prizes they actually decided to name one after her instead and her husband, founder and main archivist of the Tribe Called Quest Museum-in his spare time-and serves as President of the Blah Department at the Rich School in DC. Sister #3, Advocate for Education, History and Gay Rights. Highly requested motivational speaker for all things minimalist and education of all races of children. (I’m sure I’ll have one of my two dorky sisters edit this) Her husband, world renowned chef who cooked for me three times in my life and I was impressed each time.

What kind of awesome aunt would I be if I didn’t mention my niece and nephews: the Engineer, the Builder and the Culture Icon? Oh they know which ones they are. I just enabled them by building on what I know and spending as much time with them as I could. Even if that means talking on the phone, FaceTime or Zoom or whatever the proper thing when I die.

Now, the good part-the books: Tracy has written some pretty fucking awesome books. Her first novel (and subsequent award winner) was about hoodoo and her family. She followed that up with two sequels-including a book of short stories inspired by hoodoo traditions. She also wrote the foreword for a book by a close friend-a fascinating science fiction series that is currently being made into a movie. Her other books include a short forray into four collected works and anthologies of a fusion of horror, science fiction and cyberpunk novels. Several of which have been adapted into comic books (by her dear friend A.F. and his company) and movies. She won some awards but she’d rather focus on things she did for other people. She helped found the “Nonprofit for Creative Writers Accountability”-which is run by a friend of hers-one of the original members of her Writers Accountability clique. She was a huge advocate and supporter of LGBTIQ+ rights, various Down syndrome World Organizations, Black Girls Against Bullies, Grants for Single Parent Artists of Color and several mental health organizations for teens who are unsure of their station in life, Homesteading for the Hood, Gardens in the City and Executive on the Board of Champions for Eczema. She attended all meetings and was an active participant until she passed in her bed, at home, in Washington, DC surrounded by her family and friends. And her two dogs-Boobs II and Tiki the 2nd. (Cute Jack Russell Terriers) Her children care for her gardens she planted around the city and behind her home.

In lieu of flowers, she wants you to donate to those charities or simply hug someone and tell them, “It’s going to be okay.” Her ashes were shared among her children and made into necklaces. She did request some of her ashes be combined and sprinkled with her parents-some place warm with fruit she was not allergic to.

Her tombstone reads-See y’all on the other side.

And that’s it. Now to print this out and get to working backwards on the shit that I should have done.

this picture says "at my funeral take the bouquet off my coffin and throw it into the crowd to see who is next".
just do it. please. or I’ll haunt u.

Let’s Talk About Music

I consider myself a bit of a music connoisseur. I was raised on The Temptations, David Bowie (the Diamond Dog and Station to Station years), Led Zeppelin and Kool and the Gang. I knew a Deep Purple flute in any song. I was able to tell you which were the best drum breaks to snatch from Led Zeppelin to make a decent sample.

And I loved (and still do love) Prince. I can talk about Prince forever…master of shade and all that…all his girlfriends and how we went apeshit when he dated Nona Gaye (we really thought we had a chance to get in there).

Yeah, baby, I’m talking about you.

Back to talking about music. If you find me on Spotify, I have a million playlists. I had to write a story that took place in the 80’s, so I made a playlist for 1983. All the memories, then I realized there were so many songs I heard over and over that I started to hate that stupid playlist. But, the story came out pretty good and got good reviews.

Since we are in the apocalypse, I’ve been falling back on old habits. One of my old habits was listening to these long mixes while I do stuff-clean the house, fold clothes or whatever-to get hip. My super duper weakness is world fusion. I love a good Middle Eastern jam fused with some hip hop or something like that. (Please pardon me showing my ignorance…I know there are so many different types, but I still have a problem identifying what the fuck the difference is between crunk and trap.)

Latest on my “stalking” roster is a deejay named Nooriyah. She’s on the ‘Gram and she’s on Soundcloud. I ran across her playing the original samples for “Big Pimpin'” and “Indian Flute” (which is actually a Spanish song…durrrr-even I knew that.) She has one picture on the ‘Gram of her getting the “Stank face” when she’s mixing. If you don’t know stank face, you best ask somebody.

She’s getting the stank face in this video. She’s so cute. I don’t know how old she is but she refers to a lot of the classics as music she grew up with and her pictures have that 80’s gloss on them.

Here she is on soundcloud-kicking out the illest shit I’ve heard in awhile:

As I write this, I’m listening to another mix of hers that’s pretty sweet. And being that I am a music lover, you may want to jump on this before she gets too big and decides she doesn’t have time to respond to your personal posts. I love this chick.

Now, make yourself a music list or find me on Spotify-um my name is in the blog. I’m sure you’re smart enough.

And just keep dancing….disco forever.

(Also Happy Birthday Toni!)

Appreciation

I appreciate all aspects of my life. I guess as I get older, I understand and realize how valuable the little things are, like education and time. I’m ending my class in my major of Creative Writing and I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received. I also appreciate my Professor and my peers. My Professors feedback pushed me in a better direction with my writing. My peers gave me clarification and a better understanding of my writing. Both of them told me that I needed to slow my ass down.

It’s not quantity. It’s quality. My work seemed like a B but the help and guidance I received pushed me closer to my A. Even when your peers post the snarkiest of comments, you can learn something. Sure, I think about trying to find where you live and think about nuking your house, but I calm down and say, “Let’s see why they said this and does it make sense.” See, I even can put a cap on my pettiness and my petty is like level 800. It seems I have the power to make people invisible, but I digress.

Even now, in this apocalypse, I have learned to appreciate the smaller things like time and hugs. I cannot emphasize time enough. I know that I always am thinking that I’ll have more time then I lose three people to COVID and it’s like, “Why didn’t I use that time I had to talk to them?” Now, I think how can I honor those that I have lost to show my appreciation and to also share the information I haves so that it doesn’t remain lost forever?

If I am allowed to digress-my brain been taking me through some shit. What else am I supposed to do? Watch tv all day and try to figure out all the palindromes in “Tenet”?

I guess the point of all this is to say thank you. Tell someone how you really feel about them because you never know if it’s your time. Maybe you log onto that Zoom session one day and there’s an empty square and you think, “If only I had the time to tell them I thought their ideas sucked…” Guess what? Not happening. Text and email your friends. Send pictures.

I mean just because we are in an apocalypse doesn’t mean we have to live like it.

What’s Up With That?

I had two different people look at my writing. I got two entirely different opinions. One said I needed to leave historical references in the story. The other said to take them out because they were understood to be in the story. What to do…what to do….

Yeah, sounds about right

This has been happening a lot to me lately. I had someone tell me I needed to write shorter sentences. No, write longer sentences. Give me all the details. Let the reader fill in the details. Write the book you want to read. Write the book that will sell the most.

Thus, this is being a writer. It’s almost a democracy. You don’t want to ask for critiques then piss people off when you use nothing of what they said. What to do….

I like to sit back, think, watch some cartoons then get serious. Do I actually have enough from A or B? Is there enough background that people can get the history or do I need more background. I try to find somewhere in between. You gotta take all readers into consideration. The one that wants everything explained and the one that gets it from the jump.

Be neutral. Be like Sweden.

Guess What?

No surprise, like most writer humans I’m probably trying to think of a way to invent a house elf that can input my edits, clean, cook and do schoolwork with my kid. I am having minimal success.

However, here’s a huge tease of what I’m working on…the artist is Steve Townsend. He also does some magical work that appeals to my fan girl/graphic novel reading self. He doesn’t have a website, yet. But I’m sure he will soon.

Shoot him an email at: Herman.townsendjr@gmail.com

Hoodoo…

Don’t Be That Guy

Recently, in this glorious New Year, I had to make some cuts in my life. About 180 pounds of cuts. See, I was kinda in a thing with this guy and it didn’t dawn on me that it just wasn’t working. For about 18 years. It became tiresome and just boring from my end. The more you give, the more they take.

I really, really wanted to be sad. For real. But I’m moving towards that area where the sun shines again. Then, I thought about all the people in abusive relationships right now. I realized they have nowhere to go, which sucks. At least I have my own little place, where I can retreat from everyone. But, imagine being locked in an apartment, with your abuser and the daily suffering they have to endure.

A lot of places where the abused can go are closed or not able to take anyone because of this COVID problem. They are trapped and lots of bad things happen. Maybe they survive today only to walk on eggshells tomorrow and get sucker punched in the face. I don’t know. I’m just spitballing.

As we move deeper into madness and the apocalypse, I can only hope these places open soon. Abuse of any kind is not okay and it’s long lasting. I’m in a position where I can call my therapist, but some of these folks are so alienated that they have no one to talk to,or they are accused of talking to someone else and have the shit half beaten out of them.

What is the point of all this? Wear a mask. Stop acting like this doesn’t exist. The more you decide it doesn’t, the more some person being abused gets hit or slapped or kicked or punched again. The longer they have to stay inside with “that person” and pray for a reprieve. Be that one person that thinks of others and not yourself. I could say some dumb shit like, “Real heroes wear masks!”, but I won’t. Well, I just did but you know…Happy 2021-the year where you think of someone else each time you put a mask on.

The one where I FINALLY share good news!

Okay, yeah-here is the good news people-Tales of the Lost Volume 2 (a Bram Stoker Award nominated anthology) is now for sale on Amazon. It’s in an ebook format for only 3.99. That’s like not even a full coffee at Starbucks. And the money all goes to charity.

Also, I dig it. Maybe horror isn’t your thing…maybe you want some Speculative Fiction? Check me out in the new anthology from Midnight and Indigo. Available October 31st!

Support Black Women Writers and COVID for about $20.