When I Hear That Song, I Think About You.

January 29, 2015

It’s always cologne and lyrics. It’s always me walking around minding my own business when one of those two things comes along and stops me dead in my tracks. The memories come flooding back and I find myself paralyzed by all of the times we touched and all the words we never said.

This is a story of different people, different times, different places, different memories and the soundtrack that played to each of those bits of my past.

Turn your lights down low
Never, never try to resist, oh no

I remember a decade ago. I remember a heart that was bursting and ready to love, and a mind without any of the good sense to know just how I should do that. I remember couches in basements. I remember Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley, Wyclef and Claudette, you and me and a world I swore would never come between us. A world we didn’t know shit about then and probably still don’t know shit about now. And though I think it would be the safe thing to do to call it puppy love, there is this fraction of me that just believes it was simply before our time. Because there is a fraction of me that still sees how super dope you are. There is a fraction of me that stops scrolling every time you pop up on my Instagram feed and I see your life reverberating with the kind of passion I fight to bring to mine each day. That is the part of me that is always grateful that we had a chance to turn those basement lights down low.

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

There were cold nights and knock-down-drag-out fights. Now the hideous memories are so inflated that I couldn’t see our past straight if I tried. Loving you felt like an out-of-body experience. I don’t know that girl anymore. Life changed me in ways that built me to never endure what I so openly chose to undertake by ushering you in. And I ushered you the fuck in. I took you on. I held you down. I drew you near. I let my heart be reckless because I thought that meant somehow, it would work. We would work. Back then I thought it was supposed to be extreme and ugly. I thought it was supposed to sting and hurt. I thought we were supposed to hurl unforgivable words at each other. Sometimes feeling awful numbs us so much we think it feels good.

Damned if I do
Damned If I don’t
You know I got a girl back home
You got a man but you want, but you want

There is not a you here, not a specific you, but you are all the things I could never have, all the pieces I could never put together, all the carrots that just dangled in front of me. It’s you and you and you and you and you. It’s every last one of you. It’s all the fire I played with and all the shitty thoughts I pondered and all the greed I had. It’s all of the electricity and frenzied energy that accompanies only pursuing something because you know you can’t have it. There is all of the devilish possibility that swells in your head and heart knowing something is not within your reach. There is the reality that sometimes we are simply shit. We are fragile. We are complex. We are complicated. We are not good or bad, right or wrong, angelic or devilish. We are people and people sometimes have an impulse to fuck it all up, burn all the bridges, torch the happy homes people worked tirelessly to construct or the ones they built with their very own hands. Yes, sometimes we are simply shit. If you haven’t ever been, I implore you to live a little longer. Sometimes we are just human, and we pray on most days the Universe intercedes so we can’t act on what feels like such a basic instinct.

I stayed just a little too long
Now it’s time for me to move on
They say I’m hopeless
As a penny with a hole in it

It was a Friday morning. You were getting ready for work and I was getting ready to leave. Dionne Farris came on and we turned it up. We blasted it. We bobbed our heads. I swayed my hips. You lip sang while you put on your Converses. I cocked my head back and laughed my loud, ugly laugh. And in that moment, we were perfect. We didn’t need anything else. We didn’t want anything else. We couldn’t think of anything else. We would collapse only a few days after that, but in that moment, I swear we were perfect.

Call me crazy
Shit at least you call me

It’s freezing outside, but it is sub-arctic between us. And I wish the airport weren’t so close because I need more time to think and talk and plead my case. And I wish it weren’t Valentine’s Day weekend because then this wouldn’t feel so cliché. And I wish it weren’t a slow airport morning so I could just drop you off without having to get out of the driver’s seat and stumble through a goodbye. And I wish that just you touching my back didn’t feel so electric because maybe then this moment would not feel so dead. But it did. So it does. And I am silly puddy in your hands. I don’t get it. I never will. Two years will pass and I will still wonder just what the hell all of that was. It won’t make a lick of sense, but the volt that jolts through me anytime you pop up reminds me that some people always remain dangerous and delicious. Every time I hear Diced Pineapples, I think of that debilitating ride to the airport and I’m grateful that we could at least both hum along to that song. It was our greatest common denominator in a moment jumbled by all of the words on our two separate pages. Our bodies spoke a lingua franca all weekend, and then we went mute. But, every time I hear that song, I think about you.

Xoxo,
Tyece

50 Blogs To Take Into 2015: WriteLaughDream

January 28, 2015

DSC03784

Throughout January and February, I will be featuring several of the bloggers from my 50 Blogs To Take Into 2015 list. Today the series continues with Ashley of “WriteLaughDream.”

I’ve never had the chance to meet Ashley in person, but she was one of the first people to respond back in November when I reached out to various bloggers asking for donations to contribute as gifts at my NYC Bloggers Brunch. I know it isn’t easy or always doable for entrepreneurs to offer up their products for free, so Ashley’s generosity really struck me. That spirit of generosity comes through on her blog “WriteLaughDream.” where she writes for the “thinker, the music lover, and the person looking for a little reassurance and inspiration in their life.” Meet Ashley.

Name: Ashley Coleman
Location: Philadelphia
Age: 28

Tell us a little more about WLD. Why did you start the blog? How has it changed since you started?
Funny enough, I started the blog actually somewhere around the end of college. But it had a completely different name and focus. It started as “Music’s Chess, A Pawn’s Story” and it was all about my adventures in the music business. Because let’s just say, it really is some type of alternate reality. But it wasn’t until four years ago that I came up with WriteLaughDream. It started as a central place for myself as a writer with my music and freelance stuff and then grew into focusing mostly on content for the blog. It started with a phrase … I write, I laugh, I dream in color and that’s what I wanted to be able to share with people, each part of that mantra.

Love serves as one of the main sources of your content as well as for your book. How would you define love? Where is love most prevalent in your life right now?
Well it’s easy for me to define love now. Before I probably would have stumbled over exactly what to say. God is love. So everything that surrounds God incorporates love. He is our greatest example of what love is and how to love people. I spent so long thinking that love was this feeling as opposed to an action. It’s something you have to do all the time, something you have to make a conscious decision to do and something that doesn’t always make you feel all buttery and warm on the inside.

Love is all around me. From my significant other, to my family, to my church home, to my love for what I do. I am enveloped in love. I’m really blessed and grateful because I know not everyone has that. I’m not lacking in sources of love.  Funny enough when writing the book, my mom told me a story about my Dad. My brother was born first and of course little boys are close with their mothers. So my dad said to my mom “I want a daughter so I can have someone to love me.” So our joke is that I was essentially created to love.

In what ways is the word “love” misconstrued in today’s world?
Aw man in so many ways. We think it’s what we see on TV or Instagram or Twitter and it’s not. So many people are lost because they don’t know where to look for love. Or they know where to look but they don’t want to because it changes the idea of the feeling of what love is supposed to be. And when that idea changes, love is a lot less glamorous than society and TV tell us it is. Often we think that love is all about us when really you have to be so unselfish when it comes to loving other people. Not just romantically, but across the board. You have to learn that love is a choice first of all. You have to choose love instead of which is often easier, to hate, to be mean and to be selfish. Second, you have to learn that it is an action. It’s in what you do and how you react, not in what you say. And believe me, I write about love but I am still in the journey with everyone else. I am still a student. I still screw it up sometimes. But I always know where to come back to and that’s really important, in my opinion.”

What 3-5 posts best represent your work on WLD?

These posts at the core represent the space that I am working to create with WriteLaughDream.

Dear Love – I beg to differ, Love is a choice.  This was a good one because in all my talk about love, I want people to know that it’s a choice. It’s not something that just magically happens to you.

DREAM – Sometimes it’s just about being in the room. We all have dreams. It’s my mission to manifest the big life I see for myself. So I love these posts because as I work to achieve my dreams, I’m hoping someone else will be inspired to take the next step toward the rest of their life.

WRITE – Holding Your Breath – I love this because I try to impart on my readers that I am figuring it all out too. I don’t have the answers, but I enjoy exploring life with others through my writing.

WLD Edit

 

Tell us more about your “Bold, Brown and Beautiful” series. What is the goal of the series and where do you see it going in 2015?
The BBB Series is like this little baby that I love so much. It started out with two events in 2013, one in Philadelphia and one in DC. The focus was to bring women together to talk about colorism in reference to two films, Imagine a Future and Dark Girls. As a lighter skinned black woman, I wanted to be able to create an inclusive environment to talk about these very real issues. And apparently so did a lot of other women. It was really important to me not to create something else divisive, but something that would bring us all together. The series promotes that our beauty can co-exist, whether light or dark or in between, we can all be beautiful without putting anyone else down.

What I also found was that this wasn’t just a black issue. This was a woman of color issue. And so we wanted our campaign to be inclusive of many other races and shades. Our goal simply stated is redefining brown girls: what you think about us, how you see us and treat us. In that it’s helping define our own images of ourselves instead of being held captive to what media, society or men say about women of color. And to promote confidence, self-esteem, and healthy body images.

For 2015 we are planning an awesome event series based on body image that will include a writing workshop. We’re going back to DC and Philly and hopefully adding New York. I’m hoping to be able to put together more video content for BBB. And eventually I would like to see us be able to honor brown women of diverse backgrounds for their contributions to the world.

 

What is the best advice you have received as:
A writer?
If you only write when you’re inspired, you have to learn to be inspired by everything. I’m sure that came out somewhere in my poetry as performance class at Temple University with Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon.

A lover? Real love is for adults only. My Pastor, Lester Brown said this one Sunday and it blew my mind.

A dreamer? A head full of fears has no space for dreams. We let fear stop us all the time, in so many things. I’ve learned to do things afraid.

Ashley Coleman_No Watermark (7 of 10)

What’s next for you?
Total world domination? No, I am just so excited about all that’s in store for the year. I am doing some speaking engagements with the book, which is cool. We’re working on the BBB Series events for spring. I’ll be hosting the next Dear Love brunch in March. I’m editing my second book which will be completely different than Dear Love. It probably won’t be out until very late in the year or next year. I just want to be God’s muse. Wherever he takes me, I will go.

What inspires you?
Everything. Literally I feel inspired sometimes by the fall leaves on the ground. I’m inspired by happiness, by love, by perseverance, by faith. I’m inspired by words’ ability to make you feel. I’m inspired by people finding the most eloquent ways to express the exact way I was thinking. I’m inspired by the wonderful people in my life who keep me going in ways they’ll probably never fully understand. I am most inspired by the design of our lives to impact others, to change something and to leave a mark in this world that will last long beyond our physical breath.

Ashley Coleman is a writer, pen and paper enthusiast and love advocate. Her book Dear Love is available for purchase on Amazon, Kindle and Createspace. 

Twitter and Instagram: @writelaughdream

FB: /writelaughdream

Producing Substance In A World That Binges On Bulls**t

January 27, 2015

substance

I surfaced a recent dilemma with some of my blogger comrades: Instagram.

I suck at Instagram.

I decided to take a look at my latest IG posts and they were all quotes, words, promotional flyers for the 1,000 things I am always, well, promoting. I had to go all the way back to New Year’s Eve to see an actual picture of me. I realized if someone started following TU on Instagram last week, they could very well think that I’m a phantom. I partly blame the arctic temperatures that have forced me into hibernation mode. I’m not really out doing anything and I don’t really believe in taking a selfie of me clad in leggings and high socks on a random Sunday afternoon.

So I kind of suck at Instagram, at least according to the unwritten rule of Instagram which dictates fewer words, more photos. All we want to do is scroll.

I’m still trying to figure out my Instagram approach because there isn’t anything I do on social media that doesn’t require an “approach” now. I’m still trying to decide what my visual motif is, or if I even need one, or if it’s boring when someone posts different words that all kind of look the same. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that Instagram is more about me remaining relevant by staying in front of people’s eyes than it is about trying to convert people to  suddenly read a post. I’m still learning that Instagram is not my prime real estate as a blogger, nor will it ever be, because it doesn’t give me the space or freedom to convey the volume of substance I’m trying to convey with my words.

Like all bloggers, I get frustrated at times with numbers and I make the mistake of looking to my left or looking to my right. Then I wonder why someone can write haikus or post a pretty picture and garner thousands of likes while my little blog quote barely exceeds 11. And then I have to take a deep breath, unfollow that person (because sometimes pettiness reigns) and remind myself of what the fuck I’m trying to achieve.

I am in the business of writing personal essays. It’s what I’ve been doing since the dawn of Twenties Unscripted. I am now in the business of writing personal essays that aren’t an exercise in self-exposition, a much more difficult task if that makes a lick of sense. I am still trying to connect with people, make sense of my observations and open up about my life without exposing every last bit of my business.

So what I am still coming to grips with is that personal essays aren’t for everybody. Personal essays aren’t the kind of thing you can sum up in a pretty picture or a haiku. When people come to my space, I’m asking them to invest time and mental energy. I’m asking them to invest in my journey, to care about what I’m trying to say. I know that by choosing a path of storytelling and refusing to simply churn out listicles, I have not chosen the path of least resistance. No one ever has time and we hardly ever have mental energy for one more thing, one more word, one more piece of information to consume. But, we don’t have the time or mental energy because most of the time, it’s easier to binge on bullshit.

Our brains are crammed with what everyone tweeted, with the 50 pictures we saw on IG that day, with that video our aunt put on Facebook. When I write and solicit people to come to this space, I am asking them to choose substance. And, honestly, some days I don’t even want to choose substance. Some days I want to come home, eat dinner and watch Vanderpump Rules. Some days, I want mindless, vapid, empty entertainment. But, substance is what I do well, it’s what I do best and it is what I will keep doing. Substance is what I believe in giving to people, especially because it is now so sickeningly rare. And, I don’t say that to sound like a pompous ass. Last week I wrote a listicle about dresses and it was fun, but it wasn’t really me. It was not the kind of article I would typically drop for my readers, knowing they wouldn’t walk away with shit for themselves. My blog is like a fifth grader’s birthday party; everyone leaves with a goodie bag. I always hope that by exposing the pieces of myself, people are getting a chance to see themselves and their lives from new vantage points. I don’t know if that’s brave or moronic, but I also don’t know if I care. I’m choosing my truth over current trends, complexity over simplicity and substance over the bullshit.

I’ll continue to pursue a path of substance, originality and truth. I hope you’ll do the same. I hope you’ll continue to trust your gut and keep an ear out for your heart. I hope you’ll forego what people will like and write what people need to hear. I hope you’ll bare a bit of your soul and tell the stories that are tough to recount. I hope you’ll challenge yourself to think in new, gigantic, ridiculous, fresh and frightening ways. I hope that when it seems easier to spew a bunch of fluff and nothingness, that you’ll dig deep, you’ll search hard and you’ll come up with something classic and true. I hope you will be the reason that substance never becomes extinct.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Stop Confusing A Hobby With A Side Hustle.

January 26, 2015

Juicy

People ask me questions. People want to figure out how I have gotten to where I am, how I have accomplished the little bit that I’ve done. People ask how I stay inspired, how I manage to blog consistently, how I gained a following and how I’ve gotten my SEO up to par (something I don’t really know shit about).

I try to conjure up original answers to a lot of these questions. But, sometimes I think people want me to let them in on some sort of secret, some sort of mysterious recipe that would explain how I’ve been able to stand at the helm of this blog for almost three years.

I don’t have any secrets.

I don’t know any shortcuts.

I just work. And work. And work. And write. And write. And write. And work and write and work and write and work and write.

I would imagine that starting a blog at this point in time is terribly tough because as a friend of mine recently said, the market is over saturated. There is beauty in that over saturated market because there are so many resources, so many other people to learn from. But, without the ability to put blinders on and focus on the speed of your own lane, that same over saturated market will throw a lot of people off. It will transform them from creative producers into competitive machines. It won’t instill a value of hard work inside of them. Instead, it will propel them to seek shortcuts, forego originality and simply react to what the next person is doing, saying, writing or thinking.

If you want to know the secret, if you’re hungry for the shortcut, here it is: hard work and self-discipline. Hard work and self-discipline are the true differentiators for anyone who wants to do this blogging thing. So easy, yet so difficult. Sure, I believe I have a knack for writing, but I am not writing anything new under the sun. I’m just working my ass off and that’s something people don’t want to do anymore. People want to attempt something for three months and think they’ll magically see extraordinary results. People want to blog when they feel like it. People are out here confusing hobbies with side hustles. Watching television is a hobby for me. It’s something I do when I’m bored, when I need to unwind, when I just want to plop down and be slob for a few hours. But, writing? That’s my side hustle.

A side hustle is your Friday night when everyone else is out. A side hustle is Sunday afternoon when you would rather take a nap. A side hustle is how I originally drafted this post in the notes section of my iPhone on Friday while I was waiting to get my hair done, then edited it on a Sunday night as I felt a migraine coming on and my cramps coming back. That’s my side hustle. That’s what it looks like. That’s how inconvenient it is. That’s how not-so-fun it can be. People see the award. They see a byline here or there. They see me tweet about excitement for a showcase. But, all of this grand inconvenience, all of this work–that’s the real side hustle.

A hobby is when you feel “inspired.” A hobby is when you feel like it. A hobby is nice. It’s freeing. It’s an escape. But it will never reap the benefits of a side hustle because it will never, ever require the same investment of time, energy and resources.

You know what I want in 2015? I want people to stop confusing hobbies with side hustles.

Bloggers get a bad rep for a lot of reasons, one of them being that a lot of inconsistent people water down the term. I don’t say that to say blogging isn’t a great hobby. It is. It’s an awesome one. If someone wants to spew out some thoughts every now and again, I am here for it. But I want those people to call that what it is–a hobby. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle when there are some of us out here busting our asses and really, well, hustling. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle when your profit plan is still shoved so far up your ass it hasn’t seen broad daylight. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle If you haven’t figured out a way to consistently carve it in to your week. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle if you haven’t embedded it in to your life and routine. If you can get to it when you have the chance to get to it, it is still a hobby. Just call it a hobby and clear the path for those who are serious about their shit.

There are not any secrets. There are not any shortcuts. There is only hard work, lots of it, all the time, even when you don’t feel like it. And there isn’t hard work one day and then a day where you’ve suddenly earned the chance to prop your feet up. There is a consistent drumbeat of hard work. Pay your dues. Put in your time. Shit, I’m still paying my dues. I’m still putting in my time. I’m still waiting for a chance to prop my size 9.5 feet up.

No one can teach you hard work. Stop thinking that paying a creative coach $100 dollars an hour is going to suddenly help you work hard. Just stop being a lazy ass. Find that fire inside of you and let it burn every last bit of apathy away. Do the work. Put your head down and do the work. Put the blinders on, turn the music up and do the fucking work.

Xoxo,
Tyece

50 Blogs To Take Into 2015: Greatest Escapist

January 21, 2015

Throughout January and February, I will be featuring several of the bloggers from my 50 Blogs To Take Into 2015 list. Today I’m continuing with Kate of Greatest Escapist.

Kate BKate and I met last year at one of my brunches, and she instantly struck me as approachable, down-to-earth and inviting. We ended up grabbing brunch together a few months later and talked for hours. She felt like the kind of person I had known forever. I think there’s something pretty cool about people like that, the kind of people who you’ll rant about your life with for hours, even if you’ve only known them for minutes. It also helps that she’s a kickass writer.

So it’s no secret that even though I only met Kate twice, I was super crushed when I learned she was relocating from D.C. back to Ohio. Nonetheless, I know it was the right move for her at the right time. And, thanks to her hilarious blog filled with stories, introspection and introspective stories, I feel like I haven’t missed a beat. Meet Kate.

Name: Kate B.
Location: Akron, OH
Age: 30

Tell us a little more about Greatest Escapist. When did you start the blog and how has it evolved since you started it?
I started blogging in 2007 under the name Suburban Sweetheart, after I graduated from college in Ohio and moved to Washington, D.C. It began as a way to tell stories about my life in the city to my friends and family back at home without having to actually repeat the same stories over & over. I don’t live in D.C. anymore – in fact, I’ve moved six times since then! – and I changed to Greatest Escapist in 2013 because I felt the name was a better fit, but the blog itself has remained pretty constant over the years. It’s still my go-to space for funny stories, serious insights, and cultivated storytelling.

You have a knack for storytelling that I find to be entertaining and hilarious. What is the key to telling (or, in your case, blogging) a great story?
Thank you! You know, it’s sort of hard to say. I think I’ve definitely gotten better at storytelling over the years, but I’m not exactly sure how. A lot of practice, maybe?! For me, the key is to build up to the biggest or best part of the story – to tease it out, bring it to a climax, and then make sure you’ve got a kicker of an ending. I find that so many essays don’t end on a strong note, which can really make a whole story wilt. Sometimes, I come up with the last line first and sort of write the whole thing in reverse!

Blog logo

What three words describe your ideal reader?
Non-judgmental, open-minded, funny (or at least in possession of a good sense of humor) – basically, someone who’s not going to think I’m a lunatic, even if they can’t always understand where I’m coming from!

What is the funniest thing that has ever inspired one of your posts?
Over the summer, because I’m a cheapskate and an adventurer, I took an 11-hour train ride to the beach instead of just buying a plane ticket – which is how I found myself on a literal midnight train to Georgia. I put together a live-blog of all the hilariously absurd things that happened along the way.

The most sentimental?
I recently wrote a sort of free-verse poem about my love of my home state, Ohio. Just a couple weeks later, I announced that I was moving back! I was really overwhelmed by the positive feedback to this piece, which was outside my comfort zone.

The most cringe-worthy?
Oh, man, my blog is full of cringe-worthy moments, but one that stands out is the time I called the police because I thought my car had been stolen from a parking deck. You’ll have to read it to find out what had actually happened!

The most difficult/sad?
It took me a year and a half before I would touch serious issues on the blog. In 2009, I first wrote about my ex-boyfriend’s suicide, which finally opened me up to telling personal stories (instead of just funny ones). These days, nothing is off limits – especially difficult/sad topics.

What 3-5 posts best represent your work on Greatest Escapist?
Oh, that’s tough! I’ve published 900 published posts, so it’s impossible to pare them down, but the ones that best exemplify my blog are the ones that are A) ridiculous and that-would-only-happen-to-me funny, or B) really soul-searching, vulnerable, & honest:

  1. “Under the Weight of Living”
  2. “What to Do When You Have 14 Hours to Spare in an Airport”
  3. “The Time I Was a Big Weirdo About Potatoes (& Also Met a Supreme Court Justice)”
  4. “There’s No Place Like Whatever It Is I’m Looking For”
  5. “An Analogy With Elephants & Stuff My Cat Has in Common with Patty Hearst”

You recently made a move from D.C. back to your hometown in Ohio. What sparked your decision? Any words of wisdom for someone looking to relocate back to their roots?
I always suspected I might come back, but it just never felt like the right time. People rolled their eyes at me when I said that, but then one day, the time came. I was driving down the street in my hometown, and I thought, “It’s time to come back. I’m ready.” It finally felt right – and I moved back the next month. My best advice, cheesy as it sounds, it to listen to your intuition and follow your heart. Don’t force it; just try to be good to yourself and go wherever you feel like you’re supposed to be.

What is the best advice you have received as:

A blogger? My friend @micah once said that you should never write because you feel like you ought to; you should write when you want to. He said that readers can tell when you’re doing it out of obligation instead of passion, and they’ll respect you more for the latter.

A woman? My therapist is fond of telling me that “All feelings are valid,” and while that isn’t woman-specific, it has been, for me, a life-changing mindset. If there are no negative feelings, it’s OK to be sad or angry or jealous, so long as you don’t let those feelings seep into everything else. Have your feelings, then move on from them.

What’s next for you?
Over the past year, I’ve started submitting my writing to outside outlets, and while I originally saw some success & was published a few times, I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve really let it get me down; it’s like I’ve been afraid to write for fear of rejection. Going forward, I just want to focus on rebuilding my self-esteem as a writer and believing that my voice is of value.

How do you stay inspired?
People often say that weird things happen to me, things that don’t happen to other people. While that does, to some extent, seem to be true, I also credit it to the fact that I’m just really observant. I see stories everywhere and in everyone. I’m always on the lookout, always weaving together narratives in my head. Crazy, story-worthy things happen to everyone; I’m just paying attention & putting them to paper!

 

Kate is a freelance writer & nonprofit social media strategist living in Northeast Ohio. She prefers dives to clubs, beer to wine, flats to heels, & the Midwest to just about anywhere. Check out her blog at GreatestEscapist.com or find her on Twitter as @heyescapist.