Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fiction Series: Jentrified, Part 1

1: black men, brooklyn, and mélange

Black boys don't love us.
I mean, black men.
Black men that I refer to as black boys, when I realize they haven't come to fruition.
...refer to as black boys, when I fathom that they're missing pieces.
Jigsaw puzzle, be-broken-sometimes, black men always need me to replace something or someone.

Ex girl,
the woman next door who used to be sweet to them,
daddy's love,

But I still love them.
Even though my momma warned me.
Sistah Souljah warned me.
Mcmillan warned me.
Every book on my momma's bookshelf warned me.

Even though the back-in-the-day African-American section in the Barnes and Noble, the one that never seemed to know what we're made of, warned me.

I knew it was only some of them. After all, my daddy was a good man and my uncles seemed to have it together. I knew there were good men. I still know there are good men.

I curled up into good stories, whether the male protagonist were revered or repulsive, and promised myself an inner city and a brotha. I was going to find one of the good ones.

I'm a suburban girl.

I'd grown up taking trips back and forth to Brooklyn to spoon my grandparents and cousins. They'd travel out to see us on holidays, where my parents would open up their home for unwrapping gifts and dining inside. The boys were fascinating, considering the ones on my block stayed inside.

Borough boys seemed to cluster in the sun, throw blue handballs against concrete walls and sling curse words during streetball. Their skin sprawled, they wanted everyone to see their regality, especially during the warmer months. They had a fire about them, a flame that suburbia tried to douse from brown boys in Abercrombie and Fitch and silver spoons in their mouths.

They'd sometimes ask, "What's so fascinating about Brooklyn? Why are you there every weekend?"

I'd smiled and ignored them, knowing that even if I answered the question something blonde or ambiguous would trump me. I was never good enough for the suburban boys.

Growing up in the suburbs was an amalgamation of prep school, a black clique, and feeling outcasted at all school functions. We assimilated or we were left behind. I'd learned to live on the line, the boundary that kept me laughing with the yearbook crew and still finding my way to Newark to party at places my parents would rather I didn't frequent.

But Brooklyn was where I belonged.
Silver spoon,
kinky curls,
both parents,
still targeted,
and all.


I knew I'd spend the day pasting the URLs of our latest work on to the website of my design firm. I was hired, but I hadn't spent much time using Adobe. I hadn't spent much time coding either.

During my interview, the CEO and diversity recruiter nodded their heads in approval as I listed all of my accolades. They perused my resume and smiled, as I imagined myself in a cubicle in their pristine, all white, and I ain't talking about the walls, office adding my final touch to nationwide campaigns.

"Would you consider yourself an expert in CSS and Javascript?"

I was half Sheryl Sandberg and whole double negative, woman and black: I nodded without speaking, so they could never say I truly confirmed, but I wasn't backing down either. I'd taken transition courses, using what little HTML I'd learned trying to make my Blackpanet, Myspace, and eventually my portfolio website fly. I spent six months studying with the best of the best, at a continuing education company. I was proficient, but the doubt still resided.

The diversity recruiter and the CEO jumped up at the end of the interview, "Well, we'd like to offer you the job! You seem like a great fit for Carey Design."

John Carey, the CEO, was a laid back guy or so it seemed. He'd started the company with his wife a few years back, but she was on what seemed like a permanent maternity leave. Pictures of the couple were dispersed throughout the office, sitting on glass shelves, in perfect Feng Shui. A shrine really, to his "perfect" family. John was a stickler for good energy and vibes. He shook my hand, as I felt, "I feel good energy coming from you. You're going to be a good fit here."

I imagined my melanin sitting at the conference table, as we walked past the conference room, pouring my influence and diaspora into the work. I waved to the workers that clicked with a fury in Photoshop and Illustrator. As soon as my feet hit the sidewalk, it hit me. I was going to be a junior designer at Carey Design. It wasn't the incredible offer I'd received after graduating from MIT, but it would work if it meant being a Brooklynite.

Two months later, I'd passed the orientation phase, and I was still doing small edits on the website. I hadn't seen a staff meeting, and I was still waiting to be put on a team that was working on a nationwide campaign or any designs for that matter.

I sped out of the door on my lunch break, destined for a latte and a panini from the cafe next door. This wasn't the Brooklyn I loved. On the trips to the city, from suburban New Jersey, visiting my family that lived in the boroughs was the highlight. My grandmother's block's aroma was the smell of jerk chicken and pork, being made right outside the restaurants, Korean groceries with authentic Caribbean foods you couldn't find anywhere else, and accents from all of the islands. In September, the sounds of the West Indian Labor Day Parade could be heard through her window, flags hanging from fire escapes. Steel pan melodies and holiday concoctions would drift through the air. It was always a bittersweet time of year; the parade was incredible, but it also meant that I would have to pack my things and head back home.

Red Hook, the home of Carey Design, used to be filled with warehouses and housing projects. These were all replaced by cafes, restaurants, and curated bookstores. What the hell is a curated bookstore? Although the latter sounds nice, the folks who once resided here were being displaced. The rent was too damn high. I lived in a small studio on the cusp of Bedstuy gentrification, the only place you could find something affordable, in a smidgen of a studio. It might as well have been a closet.

The cafe was full, the line almost out of the door. Chipotle, super packed. Clearly. Several groups of hipsters, or whatever they were calling themselves these days, sat in groups drinking and conversing. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, imagine they were on their lunch break, but I knew they'd been there for a while. I'd seen a few of them in the morning on my way to work. I finally made my way to the register and asked for a pumpkin latte. I said it quietly, knowing it was the suburban drink of choice and trying to maintain my gangsta.

This became an epic fail when the barista yelled it to a co-worker across the room, "Pumpkin Latte!"


She turned back to me, "What's your name?"


The brunette scrawled a version of my name on the white cup and pushed it down the counter to another barista. I made my way to the other side of the cafe and waited for my order. The place was quaint, given an intentional rustic feel although there was nothing old about it. It popped up a few weeks before I started the job.



"Pumpkin latte for Jenifah!"

"That's me!"

I grabbed the latte, and it had my name scrawled in black sharpie, as J-E-N-I-F-A-H.


I suppressed the urge that it had anything to do with a stereotype lodged in the back of their minds.

I sipped my pumpkin latte, because of the lack of tea, and walked back towards work. When I'd almost arrived, I spotted the diversity recruiter for Carey Design. He was walking across the street, and I realized that I hadn't seen him since my interview. He must've been under contract, a part-time cultural effort.

He was fine; Jewish and African-American, Drake before the glow-up. He waved, and I waved back. I went for the door handle, and he seemed to pick up his pace to catch the door before it closed.

"Hey, how are you?"

"I'm good! You? Jennifer, right?"

"Yeah, Jennifer. I'm great, settling into the job."

I wanted to make a smart remark, print my job description and highlight all the things I hadn't begun to do and tape it to his back, but I decided to chill. Carey Design might just be a pit stop.

"That's good to hear. I'm proud of you, sista girl."

-2 points. He was trying too hard.

He patted me on the back, as he said it. He was awkward and not in a good way. He must've grown up in the suburbs too, but without parents that kept his culture everywhere, even if it meant painting white dollar store Santas black on Christmas. We had to buy the whole pack, just to get a brown Sharpie.


We got into the elevator together. I looked over at him, as he pressed our floor. He was a #DEB887, a Burlywood complexion. He wore a plaid shirt, with a solid tie. He was fashionable. If I were to crop him against a solid background, instead of the checkered elevator wall, he'd pop. He was a walking advertisement. 

"So, what do you have planned for this weekend?"

I shrugged, "Not much. I'm thinking of getting some writing done. I'm working on a book about my mother's culture. I'll probably look through a few more resumes, too."

We didn't have much more time on the elevator together. I didn't want to pry. The Caribbean, perhaps?

+2, if he was. 

"Making it more diverse, huh?"

God, I was a horrible flirt.


The elevator opened, and he stuck out his hand, "It's Samuel, by the way. We should grab drinks and chat sometime."

I sipped my coffee to emphasize, while I nodded, but ended up burning my lip. Sh-t.

I shook his hand, "Nice to meet you, Samuel. We should."

He walked out and headed towards the CEO's office, while I walked to my cubicle. I turned back to watch him grow smaller down the hallway, noticing his ample buttock in his slightly tight slacks. I smiled, "He's got some Caribbean in him, alright."

Guest Fiction Series: On The Other Side, Part 1

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Verina Wherry. Enjoy!

The Anniversary

Lou Rawls was playing in the background and all I could think about was what time Martin would be home. He was working a double shift, which meant he wouldn’t be home until late. It was already 3 pm and I couldn’t think of anything better to do, but drink wine and listen to vinyl. The kids were at a sleepover and I’d had the house to myself for the past 12 hours. I couldn’t imagine trying to clean a house with the kids constantly dropping remnants of teenage goodness all over the place. I didn’t have the time to clean up after them, not that day.

January 15th marked the fifth anniversary of finally finding someone who could put up with me. I’d tried to surprise him before and it always failed. Considering, he’d forgotten our anniversary for the past two years, this year probably wouldn’t be any different. When he told me he’d be working late, I got excited at the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to pull off a surprise that he might actually enjoy. I loved him. I just wasn’t sure that the feeling was mutual. Our anniversary would be the perfect night to find out.

It was 9:43 pm and Martin texted saying that he was on the way. The candles were lit, the steaks were on the grill, the baked potatoes were in the oven, and my spinach Florentine had just finished, by the time he walked in the door.

            “Why are all the lights off, Kamaria?”

            “I’m trying to save on the electricity. I’m in the kitchen once you’re settled.”

The bathroom was always his first destination once he stepped foot in the house. He would shower and get dressed in his favorite pair of sweats and Ole Miss T-shirt. Nothing was different, but it was taking him a little longer to come out of the bathroom. I figured I would go and check on him.

            “Martin, are you okay?”

            “I’m fine, just trying to find my t-shirt.”

            “Isn’t it where you left it? Oh, I forgot I did laundry today; it’s in the laundry room. I’ll get it for you.”

Walking down the stairs, I could hear Martin mumbling under his breath. He always hated when I would leave his clothes in the laundry room. Shortly after I made it down the stairs, in he walked, shirtless, with an irritated expression.

           “I would’ve brought it to you.”

           “Don’t bother, what’s for dinner?”

            “Come into the kitchen and see.”

We walked to the kitchen where I had made a beautiful spread. It had been years since we’d had dinner by candlelight. Actually, if I remember correctly, it was the last time the light company disconnected our power. Things were rough the first year of our marriage. That was mostly my fault, but I had to know that he would take care of me at all cost. I didn’t tell him about my inheritance until the second year. He never really forgave me for that stunt. But he’s never stopped working.

            “Smells good, why the candles?”

            “You forgot again, didn’t you?”

            “I’m sorry babe; it’s been a long day.”

            “I know, it’s fine. I thought you might enjoy the candles and the music. I made your favorite.”

We sat down to eat and he looked disappointed. I’m sure it was because of his inability to remember one important date. 

            “It’s really okay babe, I’m not upset. I just want us to enjoy the rest of the night if that’s okay with you.”

            “Of course, babe.”

            “You did an awesome job with dinner tonight; I wish I had done something special for you.”

            “Oh, this is just the beginning.”

I led him to the bedroom. By the time we finished dinner, we could no longer hear Lou Rawls playing in the background. I decided to switch the music to the surround sound and listen to some digital tunes. While Martin was at work, I created a playlist of every song that reminded me of him. Since he was a thriving musician, I assumed he would appreciate the gesture.

I pushed him onto the bed and straddled him. I hadn’t sat in his lap in a long time. I couldn’t remember the last time we made love but he wasn’t fighting me tonight and I wasn’t complaining. I must have been doing something right. He kissed me back and I melted. He ran his fingers up and down my spine in a way that let me know he missed me. I missed his touch just as much. He knew that my body reacted to his touch. While we kissed, I reached for his shirt, still no resistance. He was stronger than I was, and I admired his ability to give any personal trainer a run for their money. I only wanted to make him feel good in a way that he hadn't allowed for quite some time. I wanted to help to relieve the stresses of his day, and this time he let me.

I could tell that he was fighting it. All I wanted was to hear his voice, to hear the sound of my name echo over the sound of Xscape playing in the background. The softer my touch, the better he felt and the more he begged for me to continue, the more he craved my touch, my lips, the softness of my hands. I could feel all of the stress leave his body. I could feel his anger, his despair, and depression enter the very sacred part of my being.

I allowed him the opportunity to recuperate. He motioned for me to come lay with him. I lay in his arms and kissed him. He held me as though his life depended on it. Now all of a sudden, I felt lonely. I could feel the excitement leave my body. It was as though whatever he was feeling had completely taken over my body. All of a sudden, I was anxious.

It comes naturally, like the birth of a child born into a family of two.
I’ve grown accustomed to nurturing you.
Am I selfish for wanting to be held
when I know there’s room for me?
Am I wrong for wanting to fill that void if only for a moment?
We’re human.
It’s not always about what will be,
but what is.
We’re in this moment and I like it here.
Lying here, hands exploring limbs untouched.
Tension leads to anxiety
so natural it’s almost scary.
Natural in the way you touch me,
in the way our fingers intertwine.
like notes on a staff.
It’s too hip not to notice.
It’s too smooth to ignore.
It’s like music, the way you speak.
I hear melodies in moments,
whispers in time,
thoughts in seconds.
Why intoxicate the idea of now?
Let things happen naturally.
It’s more enjoyable that way.

There we lay for the rest of the night, in silence. We just enjoyed each other’s company. It had been a while since I felt so much peace, so much anxiety all at once. It wasn’t a bad feeling. As I got up to use the bathroom, I noticed Martin’s phone on the bathroom sink had 37 missed calls. Seriously? I always pride myself of being trusting,  but this must have been an emergency. Who would call someone 37 times, unless it was an emergency? It definitely had to be someone in his family. For his sake, I surely did hope so.


Verina Wherry is a writer, poet, and aspiring author who spends her free time listening to music, shopping for incense, and watching Criminal Minds reruns.

Guest Fiction Series: Vinnie, Part 1

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Ronald P. Clark. Enjoy!


Where is he?
Clusters of adults sprinkle irrelevant conversations into one another’s ears. I hear the lackadaisical tone in their high-pitched voices, all surrounding the elegant grace of my mother, Annette, her glazed brown skin shines even within the cloud of breath that engulfs her. The sheer volume of words trickling into her ears, I know it is nothing she wants to hear.
Where is he?

He was supposed to be here by now. My principal, Ms. Georgia Washington, taps her foot against the hardwood floor, snacks on bite-sized edibles as the time she wastes becomes more and more of a concern. My art teacher, Ms. Brenda Scott, scurries back and forth from outside to in, caters to the many parents and students who patiently wait on the person I seem to wait for every day. They do not know patience quite like I do.

Everyone waits for him. Ms. Washington. Ms. Scott. My classmates wait for him like they did when I was in kindergarten. Or was that third grade? Or fifth grade? Or seventh grade? Or all grades? They all run together like dysfunctional sentences; I cannot even differentiate anymore. My mother waits for him.

I wait for him.

I am always waiting for him.

My mother runs interference: Puts words in the ears of those who matter as to why I cannot seem to move at this moment. My lip quivers but it is simply involuntary. My hands shake but that is natural, is it not? Natural despite the abilities I possess with the same hands I cannot seem to control at this moment, in these moments.

My mother tries. Not tries, as in effort. Tries to calculate how many times we have been in this position. How many times she has nursed multiple conversations with people as they continue to wait for something she nor I seem ever to be able to produce.

My father, Thomas Smith.

I, his 14-year-old son, Vinnie, kiss my scarred knuckles. Reflex screams to punch a wall, but I refuse to let anything more than a little sweat, a quiver, and a shake be seen by judgmental eyes. I cannot be the only one in this room who has dealt with the inability of a parent to show up.

I hear words spoken – from the mouth of Principal Washington.

“He is simply brilliant.”

My art teacher, Ms. Scott.

“I have never seen a skillset like his at that age. I am astonished every time he presents something new. I almost want to have a class with just me and him. I might learn something myself.”

A classmate whose name I do not remember despite us knowing each other since kindergarten.


All of their eyes seem to be open. They see it. But why can’t he? Why can’t he ever just, see it? It, literally being my newest painting. It, figuratively being the emptiness of what outsiders would see as a father and a son. I only see a man and a boy.

And so I stand here, in a familiar position. Alone, with only you to blame for my melancholy exterior and my mother here to wash away the residual effects of your absence.

I hear my mother’s voice.

“It isn’t always like this. He just works a lot. He’s an ambitious man, what can I say?”

I can say a few things, but words are why we are here in the first place. Need more actions. More detailed responses. My vocabulary – influenced and affected by two hours of reading every day – is still not sufficient enough to properly describe my feelings about my father. Words just do not do it enough justice. It must be shown. It must be witnessed. It must be everything my father is not – present.

I take a deep breath, turn and lock eyes with my mother. She nods a nod I have seen an innumerable amount of times. She knows I must continue without him. I know I do, too. Does not take away from this aching urge to add more red to the color scheme of my knuckles.

In the front of the class with a half-smile on my face, I present my painting.

“It isn’t much really. A collection of colors and thoughts intertwined with this growing perception that today’s child is not raised with the same values as past generations. And I believe that to be true, mainly because two parents who know they are parents is always better than one real and one fake parent, not coming to an agreement on how they should raise the only thing they have created together that is any good – their child.”

Principal Washington dares to respond.

“I don’t know whether to clap or give you a hug.”

“Neither would suffice. But I can’t prevent you from having a human reaction to such an unhealthy situation.”

The room is still. I can hear my mother’s heartbeat. Ours are synchronized. I spend so much with my head to her bosom that I memorized her palpitations then trained my own to follow. This could be fact or conjecture but either way it speaks to you, does it not? To synchronize two heartbeats is to recognize your inability to function without knowing that their blood continues to run through them.

But back to this room: This room that vacillates between silence and intrigue. My classmates shake their heads – not of disbelief for that would insinuate that they have beliefs – but in a sheer act of not knowing what to do with me and my non-traditional self. They cannot turn away from me, but they cannot understand me either. I would not want them to.

I just want him to.

Clap. Clap. Bravo. A congratulations of the sort for those that are here and that can see.

I just want him to.

My mother’s voice.

"I guess that’s it, huh?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Another voice. This one deeper, with a familiar twinge of remorse.

My father’s voice.

“Did I miss anything?”

His son’s response.

“Wash, rinse and repeat… the answer to that question from the last time you asked.”

You see, my father is always on time.

Guest Fiction Series: Pretty Ugly, Part 1

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Je Tuan Jones. Enjoy!

My heart dropped every time I got that notification on my phone. A little piece of me died on the inside. It was a supposedly soothing and melodic alert, that I specifically chose for this app. It’s my Chase banking application. That beautifully terrifying alert meant that yet another charge hit my account.
What was it this time? Netflix? ShoeFab? Scentbird? Julep? Spotify?
Hell, I couldn’t keep up anymore. All of those subscriptions feel like such small things until you realize how much you’re spending monthly. The month before I tallied that I spent over $300 in monthly subscription crap. These things are like mini leeches all trying to get their portion of blood.
I looked at the date on my phone. November 16th. It was the worst subscription of them all.
It was then that I asked myself the dreaded question.
What’s my purpose?
That seems like such an asinine question. The world is littered with that question. People have made fortunes scheming my generation out of their money in order to find the answer to that question.
Have you fallen victim to this foolishness?
Pursue your purpose.
Change your mindset.
For only  $350 a session, I will help you leave your 9-5 and create the freedom lifestyle.
Who cares about the fact that you have rent due and an iPhone to finish paying for. You should totally buy into my program that is a knock off of The Secret and Think and Grow Rich.
Do I sound bitter? That’s because I am. My bank account had just been hit for a monthly fee of $397. Every month for the last 4 months I paid that amount. The online class ended two months before that, but I still had one more payment left.
I was so sure that I was prepared to leave my job as social media manager at a startup company. Don’t get me wrong, the perks are great. That’s how they got me in the door. They provide basic lunch, I get to nap, and even play video games. Seems pretty exciting until you realize that in exchange you’re stuck in a $35,000 job at the age of 29. I’d been at this company for 3 years with no raise. When I take naps there, it’s out of depression. If I play video games, it was because I need to escape the reality of my crap pay.
So, I bought into an online program that supposedly was going to teach me all about my purpose. I guess my purpose was to be a sucker and pay someone else’s bills. That was the only thing that I discovered.
I could have taken the “coach” model and scheme someone else out of their money with some new age psychobabble, but instead I chose to suffer like the rest of my fellow Americans.
I curled up on my comfortable orange couch and failed at my attempts of not moping. Not even one of my favorite shows "Sleepy Hollow" could keep my attention. Maybe I could cancel my card to stop the last payment and have them send me another one. I didn’t want to pay the last $400 into that program. That woman received enough of my money. I was still working my 9-5 and I didn’t see a way out, even with the stupid meditations that she insisted we do daily.
My phone buzzed on the coffee table, no ringer, which told me that it was a text message. I leaned over to see who was bothering me and smiled when I saw Shawn’s message on my phone.
What are you doing bighead?
I snatched the phone off of my coffee table and ignored Abbey Mills on my screen. It was texting time. I had some of the best conversations with Shawn at night.
I’d met him a year before on Plenty of Fish, a dating app. On my profile, I said that I was only looking for friendship. In reality, I was open to more but having high expectations on POF was just foolish. I’d been lucky enough to encounter Shawn. Now we were text buddies that occasionally met up for drinks and sometimes more.
My fingers flew over my digital keyboard.
Just watching TV. Hopefully, sleep will catch up with me soon. I’m supposed to do some market research for work, but they don’t pay overtime. What are you up to?
I waited for him to respond, it never took him long. Soon my phone buzzed again.
The same thing. Watching TV. But I’m thinking about you too, you should come over.
I laughed. Shawn never beat around the bush. I looked at the time. 8:47 p.m. and shook my head. Sleep was already at my doorstep and I didn’t feel like driving across Chicago just to get to him. I lived on the outskirts of the South Loop and he lived in Oak Park, a western suburb. I wasn’t going to be able to do it.
I would love to come over, but it’s late. Maybe if you would contact me earlier, we wouldn’t have these problems.
It was the truth. I did want to go over there and crawl into his bed. Shawn always knew how to make me feel better. His 6’2 body, covered with dark chocolate skin was enough to make any woman melt. His skin pressed against my butter pecan skin was a sight to see. Yes, I’m a little shallow, don’t judge me. Shawn was mellow and he soothed me. We hardly ever argued and he allowed me to be a free spirit. I could always appreciate that.
Most importantly, he made me feel beautiful. The hunger in his eyes was forever present when we were around one another.
Yasmine, you suck. I was hoping that I could see you. I guess I’ll just have to be lonely tonight.
Shawn was lying. He wasn’t the kind of guy that ever had to be lonely. Either I was his first choice and he was disappointed that he wouldn’t get access to me or I was near the end of his list and he was frustrated. I knew this because he hardly ever called me by my first name.
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you “Shawn." I’m not leaving my apartment tonight.
Clapping back at him in that way usually wasn’t my style, but I didn’t want to go back and forth with him all night. The sooner he realized I wasn’t coming over, the sooner he could make other arrangements. I was okay with him doing so, as long as he was there when I personally needed him.
I waited on him to reply, but there wasn’t one. Maybe he took my advice. Now I was left feeling emptier than I had when he first contacted me. A flirty conversation would have been great, but Shawn wanted more. I knew from experience that trying to have a conversation with him when he was in that mood was pointless.
Instead of returning my attention to the television, I scrolled through Facebook. It was the usual carnival.
Pictures of struggle plates.
Pictures of food from two-star restaurants.
Memes about Rhonda Rousey.
The sound of my front door opening startled me. I quickly sat up and mindlessly smoothed down my clothes.
“Yasmine?,” a deep voice reverberated through my apartment.
“Hey, I’m in the front room,” I called out.
It was Cameron, he had the pesky habit of not calling before he showed up. However, he was my boyfriend of 5 years, so he technically didn’t have to.


Je Tuan Jones is a writer that assists women in birthing their NO B.S. written messages, that's why they call her the Message Midwife.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

An Excerpt: Of Micah and Men

This Saturday, I'll celebrate my first print release. For those of you who are avid readers of this blog, this book isn't new to you. For those of you that are just starting this journey with me, I hope you enjoy. 

I remember sitting in my home office, with my best friend Blue, debating on whether these stories were ones to share with the world. We both agreed that all women could relate, but was it something I wanted to be a part of my legacy? 

I spent the next few days thinking about it, and when I decided that it was time, I pitched several sites the idea. The response was incredible. I've garnered hundreds of thousands of views, because of it. 

This book is a compilation of essays from the hit blog series, "In The Meantime" here on I spent 2011-2013, leaving a toxic relationship and joining the dating world. I'm looking forward to sharing the entire work with, but for's an excerpt:

Micah came out of nowhere. That far away place my friends spoke of when I was single and ranting about how I’d never find anyone. Out of that cliché phrase, when I was immersed in everything, but love, he stepped right into my life.

I was on the cusp of leaving a toxic relationship and entering the dating world when I met him. I’d spent the weekend driving through the Catskills mountains, taking my favorite road trip upstate to see a good friend. Cammie called, right after one of the worst fights with my ex-boyfriend, Ryan, and begged me to see her.

“Ryan lifted the coffee table and threw it back down. I didn’t even know he could get that angry.”
She hesitated and then spoke, “It might be time to let this go, Erica. Furthermore, what does he have to be angry about? He cheated on you.”

“I don’t know that, yet.”

“So you’re going to sit around and wait for him to come back, to figure it out?”

Ryan left after our fight. He said he needed time to breathe; apparently I was ‘overreacting’ and taking things out of context. His phone’s ringing had woken me from my slumber but didn’t seem to wake him from his own. After the fourth call, at 3 am, I answered it.

A woman’s voice responded, “This is a co-worker. I was trying to find out why he wasn’t in work today.”

I rolled my eyes, “This is his girlfriend. He wasn’t feeling well. What’s your name?”

She hung up, quickly.

My ex had a nine to five; there was no reason that any co-worker should be calling and seeking him out in the early morning. I woke him up from his slumber; we yelled at one another, I blocked the door when he tried to leave. I wanted the full story; I was tired of being told that I was blowing things out of proportion. He refused to discuss the matter any further.

While he was gone, I called Cammie. After using every excuse I had and her refuting them, I decided to make my way to her. I found my way there, that same day, taking in the breeze from the upstate roads and stopping at different heights to take in the beautiful sights. The mountains brought on a soberness I hadn’t felt in a while. It was the stillness. It had been a while since I’d sat still. My ex and I were trying so hard to show the world that we were in a relationship: other friends’ engagement parties, networking events, Super Bowl games. There was always a social media photo, a quotation underneath, something we thought we meant but had never actually felt.

I forced myself to love him. I’m finally admitting that, in this paragraph. I’m admitting it, and then I am letting it go. We met in a writing group, and he often spoke about looking for love. I was looking for the same thing and since he fit the blueprint, the type of guy that my parents would approve of, I latched on to the idea of “us”, instantly.

Not because I felt a spark.
Not with a crush.

I wished us into existence, put my arm through his own, and claimed it. This is what it feels like; I told myself. It is calm, it’s convenient, it’s something that’s there, and you take it if you want it. You leave it if you don’t.

I was wrong. 

Cammie wanted to take me to the hottest bar in town. I’m not much of a bar person, but I’d been trapped in the misery of my boyfriend’s company and decided to live a little. My best friend always had good intentions but had a horrible habit of dragging her significant other anywhere she went. I found myself spinning on a bar stool, looking for someone to strike up a conversation with while she engaged in overt public displays of affection with her man. Boredom finally got the best of me, and I posted something on social media, that sounded like a cry for attention. It was probably something to the effect of:
“Why am I still sitting at bars with the college roommate who had all the fun? Didn’t I learn my lesson, back then?”

All of my followers that were familiar with Cammie laughed and taunted me, but there was one guy, in particular, that didn’t. He stated, “You guys went into the wrong bar. You should’ve come to the one across the street.”

I was instantly creeped out. Why in the hell would someone see me and not say hello, but choose to say they’re in the vicinity? I asked him where he was. He said he was on the way over.
What was I doing?

Micah, the Instagram stranger, made his way through the door. I knew we were connected through a friend from college, but I couldn’t recall ever meeting him and I didn’t know why he’d followed me. How did I miss him? Micah had eyes like the sea; they were filled with emotion, filled with echoes of who’d been there and left. He smelled like rain, his aura seemed to glow from his pores. I adored him from the moment I met him.

He sat next to me, asked the bartender to pour us some wine, and we introduced ourselves. Cammie was so lost in her man’s mouth, that she missed the entire debacle. Micah was in town for the weekend too, originally from Washington D.C., trying to scope out a few venues he was interested in purchasing. I’d find out later that he was a connoisseur of the nightlife and amazing at what he did.
Our first conversation was dry, still trying to figure out what we were doing, we talked about general things. What did he do? What did I enjoy? I was trying to become accustomed to his drawl, and he was enamored with the tempo of my Yankee cadence. It didn’t help that I was drinking, during the time of our first encounter, my confidence pushed buttons I wouldn’t have dared to press coherent. We parted ways after our third glass,

Rochester closed up shop early and promised to speak again.

He text me the next morning:
“I wanted to see if your feelings were still the same when you’re sober because I like you.”
I needed to find a seat. I was close to cheating. I refused to follow in the steps of the man I was with. I told Micah that I appreciated the compliment and that I couldn’t speak because I was making my way home. 


This weekend, we celebrate! Join me, a few days before my birthday, in NYC. I'll be performing alongside world-renowned poets, there'll be speed dating, and I'll be signing the book! I can't wait to meet you. Purchase your ticket HERE.