[For the previous installment, please scroll back]

“Hey! This place is pretty crowded. Would you mind if I sit with you?”

She graced me with the warmest of warm dark brown eyes and her smile could have lit up the entire coffee shop.

“Be my guest. But you might regret it…”

She motioned for me to sit and I promptly accepted.

“With a smile that beautiful, regret would be impossible.”

I expected her to avert her eyes shyly or at least blush at my compliment but I got neither. She never even flinched.

I watched as she smoothed out the newspaper and folded it into four. As she did, she continued smiling and her eyes never left mine.

“So tell me, why would I regret sitting with you?”

“Well, I’m not that much of a conversationalist this early in the morning. And those girls over there seemed more than ready and willing to entertain a good-looking guy like you.”

She gestured behind me and when I turned, the three women were looking in our direction.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. I was impressed that she had observed that subtle exchange because it meant that she had been looking at me. Then, there was the fact that she had called me “good-looking”. Things were looking up so I cranked up the charm.

“You’ve been watching me? I’m flattered.”

“No, I wasn’t watching you. Let’s just say that I’m very aware of my surroundings and the people around me.”

She grinned and slipped the newspaper into her bag.

I laughed at how she skillfully skirted around my shameless flirtation.

“Maybe you should be a cop.”

“Who says that I’m not?”

I leaned in towards her across the table and whispered, “You’re too pretty to be a cop.”

She leaned in to match my action and whispered back, “That’s a bit insulting to all the female police officers in the world. Maybe…just maybe, I’m very aware of my surroundings because I’m…psychic.”

There was a long quiet moment as we simply looked at each other. This was getting more and more interesting by the second. I was enjoying this little banter between us, chatting like we already knew each other. At this rate and if I wasn’t careful, I would quickly go from being early for work to being late.

I studied her pretty face and wondered how her skin could look so smooth when she seemed to have absolutely no make-up on.  Her “Au Naturelle” T-shirt was definitely on point. There was a sense of familiarity about her which was a bit odd because we had just met.

“A psychic, you say? Okay then, “read” me. Tell me all about me.”

She took a long sip from her coffee mug. I, on the other hand, had completely forgotten that I’d even bought myself a coffee. I took a quick swig of mine and waited for her volley back. She outstretched her hand and showed me her palm. I frowned, a little confused.

“What?”

She wiggled the fingers of her outstretched hand.

“Give me your hand. I’ll give you a …”reading”.

I laughed again as I gave her my hand.

“How much will it cost me?”

I had started this game and she wasn’t afraid to play. I was already hooked.

“Not one penny.”

Her hand was smooth and soft as she slid her palm across mine. When she simply held it in hers, I no longer cared about being late for work.

“Okay Ms. Psychic?” I teased, “Tell me about my future because I could definitely see you in it.”

Next installment: January 17

©2016 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

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I will admit that sometimes I can be a bad, bad girl…

Story time:

Nicolas wasn’t a pain in my ass until he went and poked the bear.

Yeah, you guessed right.

I was the bear.

At a large firm I used to work for, Nicolas was the classic office gossiper who enjoyed stirring the pot. He sat in the cubicle next to me and listened to EVERY SINGLE WORD I said, especially when I took personal calls on my breaks. I knew that he was eavesdropping because his cubicle would go totally silent each and every time I would take a call or talk to a colleague. Even though I didn’t care for his “vibe”, I was always civil but not overly-friendly.

I’m always very selective with whom I engage with in work environments and I never participate in any gossip. I also never give anyone anything gossip-worthy about myself. I was a closed book, especially with Nicolas. But he was the type of fool who needed to fill all the time that he wasn’t working with drama.

To give you a little context, Nicolas was the same weak ass colleague whose files I had been asked to take over, little by little, because he felt “overwhelmed”. I couldn’t understand because he spent most of his time having breakfast at a colleague’s desk every morning, logging more personal calls than with his clients and he gossiping the day away with anyone who would listen.

But things shifted for me when I found out that Nicolas had been making up stories about me.

When I heard that, the only thing I wanted to do was tell him what he could do to himself but then it occurred to me that I could have a little fun with the situation.

The first thing I did was go to my manager and hand back all the files that I had taken on for him. I told my manager that Nicolas did nothing all day and that if he felt “overwhelmed”, he should take a leave of absence or distract himself by actually working.

Oh yeah, I went there.

Then, I hit Nicolas where it would hurt the most – with some easy breezy free-flowing gossip created, produced and edited by me. It was an experiment to see how fast the gossip he spread would ripple and bounce back to me.

I could fill a small notebook with the ludicrous crap I made up on “pretend” phone calls in my little cubicle knowing that Nicolas was eavesdropping. Like lies about how I used to live in different parts of the world, how I was only working for “fun”, claims of having done Botox and plastic surgery, how I was dating a popular local athlete whose name everyone knew…

Oh yeah, I did. It was my turn to stir the pot and it went on for months…

It was hilarious to see how quickly he spread my gossip. It was even more hilarious when eventually someone curious would approach me with questions related to what Nicolas had “overheard” me say.

And oh, how hilarious it was for me to give that someone a seriously confused look and say, “Huh? That’s not true. Who told you that?”, a question to which that someone could never respond to without outing Nicolas as the gossiper.

It didn’t take long to break Nicolas.

This is what broke him…

I called up a friend (who was in on the joke) on my lunch hour and “reminisced” about the time I was at the altar ready to marry the man who I had settled for when the man that I really loved stopped the wedding, whisked me away on the back of a motorcycle and that we had secretly gotten married.

Does that storyline sound familiar to anyone out there?

Remember when Bo kidnapped Hope from her wedding to that loser Larry on “Days of Our Lives”?

Yeah, I had regurgitated that scene.

My friend was howling with laughter on the other end of the line.

Seriously stupid sh*t that Nicolas should have been able to smell a mile away but he didn’t. He was like a hungry fish ready and willing to bite on any smelly bait.

A few days later, two co-workers approached me for their typical “fake” conversation. Somehow, co-worker #1 asked me if I had ever been married. Of course, I said no.

When co-worker #2 said that “someone” had said that I was once married, I responded with a poker face. Again, I said no, I had never been married.

Nicolas popped up like a bolt of lightening from his cubicle and scurried out of his cubicle to try to redeem himself and not look like a liar.

Nicolas (confused look): “But you said that you got married!”
Me (serious face): “What are you talking about? When did I ever tell you that?”
Nicolas (dazed, confused and caught in a corner): “Uh…uh…You didn’t. I…uh…heard you on the phone.”
Me (poker face but laughing my ass off on the inside): “I don’t know what you heard me say but you must have misunderstood.”
Nicolas (opens his mouth to say something but realizes that he can’t go further with the conversation without looking like an liar and ass): —-

Co-workers # 1 and #2 glare at Nicolas in disgust and then quickly walk away.

Nicolas was left standing there like loser that he was. Poor guy, I think that he almost believed that he had misinterpreted what he had heard.

Over the next few months, it was quite noticeable that his group of gossipers A few months later, poor Nicolas left for another company.

What’s the moral of this story?

Don’t waste your time getting mad or being bitter. Just have a little fun getting even.

©2015 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

 

no nope nah black girls black girl

http://giphy.com/gifs/blackgirlmagic-mhp-melissa-harris-perry-3oEjHYuwHzWUW4uses

Your blog is where you express yourself, offer your perspective and invite readers into your world.

When readers agree with you, you feel a sense of satisfaction that they understand what you are saying. And even when readers disagree with you, you’re okay with it because they’ve explained their point of view in a respectful manner.

But what do you do when a reader leaves you a comment telling you that your point of view is wrong, stupid and that you have no idea what you’re talking about?

I was reading a blog where the post was related to “you know what and you know who” and some of the comments from one specific reader were ridiculously rude. I should also add that the blogger was simply giving their perspective in a very non-offensive manner and that it was obvious that the reader did not take the time to read the entire post…

Okay, it’s no surprise that politics, racism, sexism and discrimination against specific groups are topics where people get passionate about getting their point of view across.

But I was astounded at how this blogger choose to keep “engaging” with that reader’s nasty comments and personal attacks…a reader who truly did not fully read the entire post.

Look, everyone has a right to speak their truth, no matter how “alternative” or diametrically opposed it may be to your way of thinking.

But no one has the right to be disrespectful or nasty towards you.

My finger will never hesitate to click on Spam, Trash and/or Block if a comment disrespects me, another blogger in my comments section, a certain group or an entire community of people.

I don’t know about you but I have no interest in wasting precious time, energy or words to entertain those who are disrespectful towards others.

tamar braxton tamar aint nobody got time for that

http://giphy.com/gifs/tamar-braxton-aint-nobody-got-time-for-that-rX9dPaJHRJt7i

If you disagree with a blogger’s point of view and want to comment, do it in a mindful and respectful way. Use your words in conjunction with your brain and try to clearly explain why you disagree.

If what you read truly gets under your skin, skip to another blog or just “unfollow”.

And if you’re itching to be rude and disrespectful, don’t bother commenting at all. It’s not worth your time arguing with “hate”. Spend that time promoting “love” on your own blog.

Respect usually begets respect and the only place nastiness will get you is nowhere.

Have you ever had that experience on your blog?

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews.

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

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addicted to blogging

Photo credit: bernissimo / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Dear New Friends and Old Blogging Friends,

Like I mentioned in a previous post, the “pull” of blogging and networking is addictive. Making new friends, reading each others’ posts, the instant gratification of feedback…yes, it’s all very addictive.

How addicted are you to blogging? And if you’ve been blogging for years, do you fear that you will eventually run out of words?

Share with me in the comments section.

©2018 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved. (Updated from 2015)

In response to the Day 17 assignment, “Mine your own material

mine your own material

Image by Karen Horton (CC BY 2.0)

Remember when I told you about living with the voices in my head and that I’d put my pen aside for far too many years?

Well, you wouldn’t believe what I stumbled across as I was decluttering some files in an old filing cabinet.

To give you a little background, once a year I purge my main filing cabinet to make room for day-to-day documents that I would never keep paperless.

And the other file cabinet has stuff that I need to hang onto for the long-term like tax documents (at least 6 years), warranties for electronics and appliances and receipts for big ticket items (for as long as I have the item).

This cabinet also has projects and stuff from my younger days that I wanted to keep but not necessarily access on the regular.

But I had a few free hours to kill and accompanied by Netflix, I decided to tackle cabinet #2.

And I’m glad that I did because this is what I found:

Now don’t be all impressed or anything. What you see above is more of a mishmash of draft chapters than an entire manuscript. I honestly didn’t even remember that I had these drafts.

This is just proof (to myself) that some of my characters have been aimlessly rambling around lost since circa 1997. And the year is just my guesstimate since within these pages I refer to “pagers” and the old school answering machines we used to have back in the day.

Eventually, I will read through all of it but from the pages I did thumb through, it is quite amusing to see how the draft storyline of “then” is markedly different than the storyline of what I am working on “now”.

Time, maturity, age and experience have definitely changed where I plan on eventually taking this story.

What have you written that you have been hanging onto? And what do you plan on doing it?

Images and content ©2015 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

Books

Photo credit: quimby / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Seeing as to how this is NaNoWriMo month, I was thinking about how I approach my stories and how they are sometimes highly inspired by the lyrics of songs I listen to as I’m writing.

…Which got me thinking about how I used to be an avid reader of E. Lynn Harris, who sometimes used song titles/lyrics in his novels as chapter titles. I liked that creative spin.

…Which, like a domino effect, got me thinking back to how I used to look forward to the paperback versions of his novels (I couldn’t afford to splurge on the hardcover price) to see what new craziness Raymond, Basil and Yancey had gotten into.

…Which got me thinking about how his books got me to read about things I didn’t know much about and from the perspective of an author who did.

As you can see, there was a lot of thinking going on…

When I first read Just As I Am, I had no choice but to go back to the beginning of his series to Invisible Life and follow through until the last novel he penned before his untimely death in 2009. I didn’t even know it until writing this post but according to his Wikipedia profile, E. Lynn Harris “authored ten consecutive books that reached The New York Times Best Seller list, making him among the most successful African-American or gay authors of his era”.

What was amazing is that his biggest fans were straight Black women like me. Back then, his books were staples in American bookstores, book clubs and were talked about in the Black hair salons like they were the latest installment of an ongoing soap opera, which in a way, they were.

The stories of love, sex, deception and secrets were goooood and the “who-loves-who” triangles were irrelevant when it came to the character’s gender. Interesting characters, flowing dialogue and juicy enough to make you pay attention within the first few pages of each novel, even if you hadn’t read the other ones.

E. Lynn Harris basically invented a “new” book genre that depicted affluent Black gay men living double lives and the world of his characters often revolved around professional football and/or the entertainment business. In my opinion, he had a gift for writing dialogue and describing scenes so well that it made you feel like a fly on the wall. It was clear that he was writing from his own knowledge and that he was close enough to the worlds he depicted extremely well.

As I said in Writing About What You Know, when you write about what you know, you’ll get me to read about what I don’t know. Each and every time.

The jokes on me: Somewhere in the late 1990’s, a few of my aunts came to visit and knowing that I had a large collection of Black authored novels, they asked to borrow something to read during their stay. Past experience had taught me that whatever novel I would lend would probably be leaving the safety of my bookshelf and find itself on a plane overseas. Being a former bookworm, I used to have a BIG problem with lending out my books. It would hurt my heart to carefully read and “baby” my books, only to lend them out and have them returned with crushed spines, tattered pages and folded corners. Thinking that I was being oh-so-smart, I offered them each one of my Harris books, assuming that the content would not be their cup of tea, probably leading them to abandoned the books after the first few chapters (and my books would stay at home with me). Needless to say, I was totally wrong. Not only did those books leave the country, first my aunts traded books with each other and then gave both books to a third aunt to read. Three years later, my books finally found their way home to me…

©2015 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.