Sunday, January 27, 2013

Change of Plans

I haven't been able to make it on here lately. Between working, school starting and everything else in my life, I was trying to figure if My Time For Ashes still has a place in my life.

It does. It absolutely does.

So I figured I can add a page for MTFA on my "professional" blog that I spend more time at and on. That way, I can continue to organize what I'm doing on a professional level as well as still have a place to talk about my personal life.

Long story short, I'll update here if I have something new to add and link the post to my other blog. My pictures, musings about writing and other items will also be there as well. I think this is going to work and I think I've figured out a way to continue this personal journey of mine. I hope so, because I don't know how to combine two blogs into one without creating a new blog or anything like that....

Anywho, stay tuned!

Until next time...

Never Have I Ever...

January: put one of my fanfictions on Fanfiction.net

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prompted: Best Place To Read


Best Place to Read


Where is your favorite place to read and why?

It probably seems counterproductive, but my favorite place to read is out in public. On a bus, in a crowded room; the noisier, the better. For years, the only way I was able to cope with being in public places was with headphones blaring music and a book in my hand. Now, it’s a sign that I’m really into whatever I’m reading.

If I’m able to read in a room with crying babies or screaming children and still focus on what I’m reading, that’s a sign that I’m really into whatever I’m writing. If I can’t make it through without those around me distracting me, it’s either not my time to read it or it doesn’t engage me enough to take me away from my current surroundings and into the book’s world.

I actually can’t read or focus when things are too quiet. I guess it’s a sign of my generation, but I don’t do well in utter silence because I think all of the time and the noise is one of the only ways I can get the thoughts to quiet down long enough for me to concentrate. Even if it’s just background noise from the air conditioning or from another room, something is better than nothing.

Check out this and other Writing Digest prompts here. 


Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Take On...Filling A Gap



I’ll admit that I, as an African-American, never really felt different from my white friends as I was growing up. There weren’t very many instances where my upbringing differed from theirs, but one thing that comes to mind is that while they were able to read magazines like Girls’ Life and Seventeen and the like, there wasn’t a magazine that I could read where I saw girls like me dealing with some of the basic issues I faced as a minority.

No one had the same type of hair, the same complexion or anything like that. My body’s proportions were never like the girls I saw in the pages of those magazines. I tried for years to diet and do just about every horrible thing I could to my body to try to look like them only to find out that nothing I would ever do would leave me hipless and able to fit into a size 2. There were no hair or makeup tips that I could successfully use (though there are many funny instances when I failed in such endeavors).

As an adult, I have access to more magazines. The advent of the e-zine allows more people to read more magazines than ever before, but I still notice a lack of magazines that are specifically geared towards teenage girls and young women of color in comparison to the amount of publications that are out there.

I understand it’s a consumer-driven market, but as the country continues to become more diverse, most of the major magazines have remained the same. I also get the fact that there are more women and minority writers, models and contributors, but I still feel like there’s a lack when it comes to magazines targeted towards minorities.

So, time and ability willing, I would to one day like to fill a gap left by this industry by creating an e-zine geared towards those who are currently left out. Hair tips for African-American women. Make-up ideas that will look good on those with darker skin. Articles focused on what they face. Encouragement to be unique and different, to hold onto their individuality instead of trying to conform to what’s perceived as “normal”.

And while I’m at it, since writing is so near and dear to my heart, how cool would it be to create a literary magazine for minority adolescence, teens and young adults? I used to love Teen Ink in middle school and I think it’s a great magazine. I hope to never rival them, but complement what they do. Reach out to those they might miss and broaden the demographic of creatively-minded young people. Embrace the arts and help those who hope to enter this world one day by showcasing their talents and abilities.

So those are just a couple of the ideas bouncing around in my head at the second. More than just about anything else I want to do, I want to be able to accomplish this and fill some of gaps that others have missed or were unable to fill.

I guess we’ll see what the future holds….

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Seeing The Red Again: Part V

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters nor do I work for the people that do. An idea popped into my head and I let it lead me. I hope you enjoy the journey...



(Also posted on Fanfiction.net)
One more chapter of sadness...after all, light shines the brightest right after darkness...

I slip out of bed without you noticing and head for the kitchen. I don’t go to the bathroom; my scrubbing will wake you up and there are too many things keeping you awake at night for me to add to your list.
I’ve learned that simple hand washing doesn’t do. I’ve taken to using a Brilo pad to get the stains out. It works for dishes, it should work for me.
Why doesn’t it work for me?
My skin screams for mercy that I can’t give.
I live in fear someone will find me out, realize what pain I’ve caused other people. How badly I’ve hurt each and every single one of them.
I swear I would never be like her, my mother. Swore I’d never hurt anyone.
I lied. I’ve hurt everyone. Meaning to or not makes no difference; the end result is all that matters.
My body count is astonishing. Not my official kill count, which still rests at two even after all these years. I mean the list that matters, how many people are dead because of me, has many more names.
As I purify my skin, I stare at a Christmas card I received last year. From a victim I helped. She’s doing well. In college. Studying Criminal Justice. She wants to be just like me when everything is said and done.
Be nothing like me, I want to tell her. Be as little like me as humanly possible.
Her card and the others don’t leave a dent. Not as long as the ones who will never write me a card and those who can’t remain in my memory.
I don’t hear you coming into the kitchen. The lights flickering on barely register.
“You won’t have any skin left if you keep doing that.” The sleep in your whisper is deep. You reach around me and turn off the water. “Come back to bed, baby.”
“I will,” I promise you. “As soon as I get it all off.”  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Prompted: Life Changing Moment


Life-changing Moment


Write a 16-line poem (rhyming or non-rhyming) about a moment from your childhood that changed your life for the better.

 Finalized

It was this accident that kept them together
They were never truly meant to be
So when they finally went their separate ways
 It wasn't a shock nor a pity

The fights had gotten too intense 
The hatred too hard to hide
Their words full of anger and venom
Hearing them always caused the little girl to cry

The mother was the one who moved away
In the house the father stayed
 The little girl was shuffled around
From house to house, place to place

The day the divorce was finalized
A wrong finally made right
To many, it would make them sad
But this girl was never so excited 

Check out this and other Writing Digest prompts here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Seeing The Red Again: Part IV

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters nor do I work for the people that do. An idea popped into my head and I let it lead me. I hope you enjoy the journey...


(Also posted on Fanfiction.net)

I’m wide awake in bed. You lie beside me, sleeping as soundly as someone in our field can ever hope to muster.
I trace the scars on your chest. Not enough to wake you up or even cause you to stir; just enough to feel the unevenness of what was once smooth skin. The slashes were caused by a former colleague seeking the attention he never received. The slashes were caused because I couldn’t reach you in enough time to warn you and stop him. Because I failed you.
You finding me when you did is why I’m alive now, you’ve told me too many times to count.
My taking so long to put two and two together put your life in jeopardy. Again, I never bother to add. It’s understood.
My fingers move from the slashes on your chest to the two wounds near your shoulder, where you were shot the second time around. My coming to see you when you were undercover and getting caught by the perp you were shadowing caused these.
I wasn’t in the courtroom with you when you got shot in the arm. I was supposed to be. For the life of me, I can’t even remember why I wasn’t there, looking back on it now.
Doesn’t matter in the end; even when I’m not around, I’m getting you hurt. But it’s not just you; it’s everyone.
The stakeout that went south. Two civilians were killed and we almost lost a colleague too after I couldn’t get back to the store in time. Munch was in the courtroom with you when you got shot. Ryan is dead because I wasn’t able to piece together Stuckey’s crime wave in time.
Melinda…Alex…Casey…we almost lost them all. I was there, always around; just not good enough to keep them safe. I couldn’t do my job. The motto is to serve and protect; who am I protecting?

They have Patron Saints protecting people from just about everything now. Except for me. Maybe they can find someone. Pray really hard to Saint Someone or the Other and they’ll protect all of you from me.
You’re the resident Catholic. Look into that for me if you ever get some free time.
My stomach begins to groan, starved for me to provide it some nourishment. This would be about the time I sneak out of bed and have the wine you insisted on banning me from. You poured the bottle into the sink as you cleaned up from dinner.
Bastard. You know the only places that sell alcohol are closed. Even in New York City, the city that never sleeps, has to sleep sometime. Apparently, 2:47 AM is that time for everyone except for me.
Through the light that streams in from the window, I see red.
Your blood. Her blood. His blood; they’re on my hands again.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Take On...The Lance Armstrong Saga

For a man who has been at the center of rumors for over a decade, the one that has him admitting that he cheated may be the most disconcerting yet.
           
I admit that I may be one of the last on the Armstrong bandwagon, but I still remain unsure what, if anything, he did. Not because I take his word for it or because I don’t believe any of the people who have said he cheated.
             
It’s because I’m left with the facts: Armstrong never once failed a drug test. He didn’t take a couple or a few: he took and passed several hundred. So if he does sit down to tell Oprah that he took steroids or HGH or whatever it is, I still have to question the I.O.C. for never catching him. If rumors ran rampant (as they did) and he was given as many unannounced and unexpected tests as he was, where are the positive tests? Where’s the proof?
            
I can’t wrap my head around the fact that one man was able to flick off the system for as long as he was alleged to do without trapping himself or getting caught in at least one lie.
             
But even without irrefutable proof, he has still been declared guilty. He has been stripped of his Tour de France titles; he’s lost his position at the foundation he and his cancer battle founded and lost his endorsement deals. He suffers a similar fate as some of baseball players from the late 1990s: never failed a test but still seen as tainted because of what others did.   
            
So is Lance Armstrong guilty? Maybe he is and he’ll describe at length every single thing he did while talking to Oprah. I’ll stop seeing him as an incredible human being who was able to come back from insurmountable odds to be one of the best at what he did and see him as a fraud and someone unworthy of admiring. 

Maybe everything others said about him was true after all, but the I.O.C. had chance after chance to gather the necessary evidence it needed to prove that Armstrong was a dirty cyclist. They never did. They blew it and must take responsibility for enabling a testing system that allowed for such incompetence to exist when Armstrong and many others accused of doping were still active cyclists. 

(Also posted on woodypaige.com

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Seeing The Red Again: Part III

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters nor do I work for the people that do. An idea popped into my head and I let it lead me. I hope you enjoy the journey...

(Also posted on Fanfiction.net)

Every time. Without fail. When you said you’d be gone for a week, I knew something would happen. It always does. I never would’ve guessed it would be this bad, but I couldn’t shake the eerie feeling of something going down until it did. Then again, if I was able to pinpoint what would happen ahead of time, there’d be no crime. We’d have no jobs.
Now that I think about it though, I’d gladly be unemployed if it meant people were no longer hurting each other.
Since that’ll never happen, my job is safe until I finally crack up, burn out or fall in the line.
I don’t know how it’ll end; just that it will. Don’t know when either. Should’ve left years ago. Even though I go back every day, I’m never quite ready for the fresh hell that awaits me.
You shut the door, stifling in a curse when you realize it won’t close all the way now that you’ve kicked it in again. Call the super. Explain the situation. Show him your badge. It’ll be fixed tonight.
Your keys land on the table by the now-disabled door. Your footsteps become lighter as you toe off your shoes. You lose your belt before you reach my bedroom. You call my name, looking for me like you don’t know where I am or what I’m doing already.
You see my reddened body as soon as you push the bathroom door open. You stare at me for a moment. I don’t know whether it’s because of how I look right now or because you’re a man looking at a naked woman. I can never tell with you. All these years we’ve known each other and I still can’t read you as well as you can read me.
Never did I imagine that I could have less to hide than someone else. Not after everything that happened to me growing up. Then I think about everything you’ve gone through. You’re not supposed to compare crappy childhoods, but compared to yours, I enjoyed picturesque formative years.
After the nostalgia of seeing my naked body passes, you sigh and grab my towel. You open my shower door and turn off the water, wrapping me in the towel after prying my loofah away from me.
“I can’t stop yet. I’m not clean,” I tell you.
“You’re okay,” you respond, kissing my temple as you wrap a second towel around my damp hair.
No I’m not. I’m not okay. I’ll never tell you or anyone else this, but I’m not okay. Somehow, you sense this, running one hand down my arm as your other one is busy towel drying my hair.
“I brought take out. Your favorite,” you say like I’m hungry. Like I can eat after what I saw today.
But how would you know what I saw? You weren’t here. I sit and watch as you eat. We’re in a standoff. Will be until you give me my glass of Merlot back. I will sit here, all night, letting this food get cold until I get my way. You know how stubborn I can be.
Then again, you can be a jackass too when you want to be.
Hence, the standoff.
We look at each other, waiting for the other to crack first. Won’t be me. Not tonight. I earned this glass. This bottle.
I haven’t spoken to you since throwing those insults at you. They rolled right off of you like you were coated in Teflon, but I know you’re not. I wonder when this night will come back to bite me. It always does with you. You hold onto every slight. Every hurt. I’ve done both.
I don’t touch the food you brought for me. I don’t get to have any wine, but you can’t force a morsel into my mouth. I’m not sure if this is a victory or not.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Take On...The Bowl Season

This bowl season, I did something I've never done before: watched all or part of every single bowl game. As an avid football fan, it's strange to have never done this before. Some of the games were gems; others okay; some a test of patience to flip back after halftime. There were thirty five games this year and while I don't want to take away games by telling some teams with winning records to pack it in after their last game, I'm left wondering if some of these games should've occurred.

Oklahoma State vs. Purdue, after all, was only a close match up until the coin flip. I don't mean to knock the Boilermakers, but I watched that game and realized that a 9-3 Louisiana Tech team that almost knocked of Texas A&M (who beat a then #1 and eventual National Champion Alabama) was watching this game at home as well.

I can't figure out why this is. Yes, I know about bowl games with conference tie-ins and all of that jazz, but right is right. And that wasn't right.

Then on the other hand, I'm left with 6-6 S.M.U, Virginia Tech, Central Michigan, Rice and Michigan State teams as well as a 6-7 Georgia Tech team who got the job done; some by considerable margins. 7-5s Arizona, B.Y.U., Baylor, Texas Tech, Arizona State and Oklahoma State won as well. This defeats the purpose of saying that a team's wins and losses should be the focus when deciding who goes where and who stays home.

But who can bring in the most amount of money and bodies shouldn't be factors either. Either reward the teams who've won during the season or don't; either base bowl game decisions on this or don't, but don't use ticket draws and bigger fan bases.

While we're at it, an organization who stresses the importance of a student-athlete's amateurism using money as a reason at all is hypocritical. Especially if it's because of an organization an undefeated team had to watch the National Championship game on the couch instead of playing in it or other teams who had winning records were banned.

What am I saying? This is a complex issue that's not going to be cured in one post. As is obvious with how the teams played, those who are .500 or only a game over shouldn't necessarily be the ones left off the bowl list, but this year has shown me that something needs to be done about how a champion is crowned as well as who gets to play at which of the other bowl games. We need a new and more unbiased system. There will never be complete partiality when humans are involved, but it can get better. It needs to get better.

We can do better...

(Also posted on woodypaige.com)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Prompted: In 10 Words


In 10 Words
Write a 10-word sentence that sums up your day.

Today was a day of endings and of new beginnings...

Check out this and other Writing Digest prompts here.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Seeing The Red Again: Part II

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters nor do I work for the people that do. An idea popped into my head and I let it lead me. I hope you enjoy the journey...
(Also posted on Fanfiction.net)

Soon, my hair will no longer be matted by the blood that coats it. My fingernails will no longer be stained crimson.
Until the day I die, the last two minutes and thirty six seconds of her life will haunt me. No soap and water will cure that.
I’ve given the best years of my life protecting victims. I know there are many who have better lives now because I was able to help them, but they’re not the one who leaves an impact.
The battered wives who are still with their abusive husbands. The little girl still in the custody of her bastard of a father who’s been raping her for as far back as she can remember.
The victim whose rapist was never caught.
The victim whose rapist was caught but never charged.
The victim whose rapist was caught but never convicted.
They needed me to help them. They needed me to save them.
I failed them all.
This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in my cramped shower having to wash what is left of someone I’ve seen die off of my body. Not the second time either. Or the third.
When around me, people seem to drop like flies.
GSWs. Stabbed. Slashed. Not many people can cop to seeing two people bleed out from a slit throat within two calendar years.
I can. Lucky me.
Even days later, it still won’t wash off. No amount of home remedies do anything more than the crimson remains from other people’s dying bodies fade slightly.
It never goes away. Not really. People may not notice anything different about me, but it’s still there. Every spot of brain matter ever to land on me. Every speck of blood I’ve picked up along the way. It doesn’t appear on the UV light that shines on crime scenes, but it’s there. It’s all there, hanging onto me. My olive skin becomes grimy with more than enough flaws and scars on my own accord to need anyone else on me too.
It hurts now. My skin. But I can’t stop. I’m not clean yet. My fingers are now wrinkled and throbbing from chocking my loofah sponge with a vice-like grip, but I can’t stop. I’m not clean yet.
I hear a key in my lock. Then I hear a knock, knock, knock. My deadbolt is on. Opening the door means getting out of the shower before I’m clean and I can’t do that.
You kick my door in. Not the first time this has happened. You’ll replace it easily enough. Mutter something about not buying another door with a deadbolt on it, but knowing I won’t feel safe enough to stay here otherwise, you’ll relent, telling me not to use it if you’re not here.
When you’re here, I don’t need to use it. You keep me safe. You know this.
It’s when you’re not here that the bad things happen.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

13 in 2013



Not exactly New Year’s Resolutions…just things I’d like to accomplish this year…

Coach Drake used to tell us that it takes 32 times of doing something to make it a habit. Maybe I’ll start cooking on a regular basis if I do this, so in 2013, I hope to cook 32 meals not using the microwave (at least, not for the main course. And yes, this again. It’ll keep showing up until I actually make good on it) 

Continue building my platform as an aspiring writer. 

Fully utilize my LinkedIn account 

Learn what in Erath County Google+ is and learn how to use that as well
Take at least one picture every day 

Travel to at least one other state, even if only for a weekend 

Find a way to spend at least 10% of my time helping someone else. I figure if we tithed our time like we’re supposed to tithe our paychecks, maybe life could actually get better for people 

Read at least one other religion’s holy text and attend at least one service of another religion’s 

Become a proficient Clarinet player and learn at least one new instrument as well

Continue utilizing the Debt Snowball and end the year with less than $10,000 of debt (currently owe about $20,000 total for my car and student loans) 

Read all of Jane Austen’s novels (and a few other non-assigned books as well) 

Be a better friend, better daughter and better human being in general 

Hope for 2013: I’m hoping that 2013 is a year that I focus on finishing what I started. I also want this year to be one of new beginnings. By year’s end, I’m hoping to be a self-sufficient graduate student who’s already started classes or will start them in January 2014.