Category Archives: Reviews

Book Hangover

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

An Untamed State
An Untamed State

This is the kind of book that haunts you long after you’ve turned the last page.  This story of a young, hopeful wife and mother being kidnapped then held and tortured for 13 days is such a testament to what we can endure.

As she slowly “dies,” forgetting all she knew, all the comforts she was used to as the daughter of a wealthy Haitian business man, all the love her husband lavished on her and all the love she was eager to give her baby son, she also learns to survive.

She plays the game these young and frightened rebels force her to play and she wins in the end.  But during those 13 days of violence,  I feel her pain.  I cry for her as her breast milk dries up and her body begins to forget her baby boy.  I cry for her as she faces the hard truth that her father is not as willing as she hoped to part with his fortune for her freedom.

But of all the possible characters in the novel, Mirielle’s mother in law, Lorraine, a cancer-stricken, white, farm owner, who wasn’t so welcoming to her in the beginning becomes Mirielle’s savior, of sorts.  She returns an old favor and helps to nurse her daughter-in-law back to health and life after the traumatizing ordeal.  Their relationship is beautiful.  They made me smile throughout the many pages of nail biting and tears.

Needless to say, this emotional roller-coaster has made it hard to move on to another book.

Good luck to me and to you too, if you decide to read it.




It’s time to Clean House

They're ready, but am I?
They’re ready, but am I?

Recently we had a friend visit us with their kids in tow.  As they had just moved to the area, my husband decided to give them a tour of our home with its renovations to possibly inspiration for their own projects down the road.

After seeing my daughter’s room and then heading downstairs to the basement, one of their children very clearly and comfortably announced, “this is a messy house!” Immediately his parents tried to correct his behavior as they apologized.

“No big deal, he’s just a kid”, we said and we all laughed it off.  But later as I reflected on what he said, I realized that he was right!  Because I had been working Saturdays and Sundays singing, while I was still getting into the groove of life with a kindergartner and an almost 2-yr old every weekday!  That includes making breakfast, packing lunch boxes, preparing lunch for the younger one, helping with homework, making dinner, washing dishes,  sweeping the floor, overseeing bathtime, having story time, refereeing the fights that occur during playtime…and then some!  Seriously, its tiring just to type it!

I love my little germ magnets!!
I love my little germ magnets!!

On top of that, I was fighting a cold, brought home to me by my little school girl!

I would ask for some slack, but you know the story, a woman’s work…yada, yada!  I probably wouldn’t get any slack.

Instead, I asked for energy, better time management and restored health.  Then I heard this today  (on the Today show) and at least it inspired me, with it’s small steps to keep the house cleaner and try to keep everyone well!

Take a break and Enjoy.   (And don’t forget to get your rest, because none of this can get done if we don’t feel well!)

Happy End of Summer

It's almost Fall!
It’s almost Fall!


Our Family Camping Trip

Our family at Yosemite National Park
Our family at Yosemite National Park.

A few days ago my husband, two daughters and myself just returned from our first family camping trip.  The trip had been a dream request of my five year old daughter’s for some time,  so with my experienced husband’s encouragement of  her dream,  I finally  gave in.

We flew into San Francisco, baby carrier in tow, planning to rent a car and drive to Yosemite National park, with it’s huge sequoias, El Capitan and Half Dome monoliths.

The three girls with Half Dome behind us.
The three girls with Half Dome behind us.
Hubby in girls in front of the huge roots of a fallen Sequoia.
Hubby in girls in front of the huge roots of a fallen Sequoia.

From the beginning, I was worried about bears, but immediately upon landing, we found that the San Francisco area had just experienced a substantial earthquake in the past few hours.  Earthquakes then joined my list of  things to worry about.

When we finally arrived at the camp site, which was already pitched and complete with cozy,  soft cots/beds.   I couldn’t help but notice all the burnt trees drove there.  Suddenly, forest fires in the middle of the night were also added to my list of things to worry about.

Our cozy tent.
Our cozy tent.

As my list grew, it never occurred to me how much fun I might have.   Pushing a couple of beds together in order to snuggle for warmth while we were serenaded by bats, crickets and other animals throughout the night,  was actually a nice way to fall asleep.

The sticky goodness of roasted marshmallows.
The sticky goodness of roasted marshmallows.
More roasted marshmallows.
More roasted marshmallows.

Using my flashlight and singing as we walked briskly at four in the morning, in the 100, or so feet of complete darkness and trees from our tent to the bathroom, helped to calm my daughter’s fears and mine, but it also made for some exciting memories that I won’t soon forget.

Hidden bathroom in the woods. Can you see the building?  Now, imagine that it's dark...
Hidden bathroom in the woods. Can you see the building? Now, imagine that it’s dark…

Locking food and toiletries away in a bear locker, using pampers on the girls heads because I didn’t think to pack comfortable hats to sleep in and still feeling like I was at a resort because of their great restaurant, pool, spa and kids playrooms, all made for a priceless and unforgettable vacation!

Pamper head.
Pamper head.

Thanks Evergreen lodge.  I look forward to doing it again.  Only next time, we will definitely reserve one your log cabins!

Liv's 1st photo bomb! on a tour, learning about the Sequoias
Liv’s 1st photo bomb! on a tour, learning about the Sequoias.


Ciao Everyone!

Diversity and Peace


Diversity and Peace
Diversity and Peace

There’s been so much said already about what’s happening with police brutality and the slayings of young black men, that I almost didn’t want to say another word.

What can I say?  Everything I think about the subject only serves to upset and sadden me more.

Then I read this article in Time magazine, written by David Von Drehle.  It’s full of interesting information about Ferguson, a place where old  hatred has now erupted into something bright, red and thorny, from a seed that was planted long ago and nurtured for years.  It’s roots date back centuries, even to 1857.   So today, those ugly roots are as deep as they are thick.

From reading the article, it  would appear that Ferguson had this coming.  If it were only Ferguson, however, our problems would be fewer.  But it’s not only Ferguson.  As David Von Drehle notes, this sort of scenario has occurred in many towns.

He  would like to know “how often this happens?”  Are “police resorting more quickly resorting to lethal means, and if so,  against whom?” Good question, but if your skin is anywhere near the shade of mine, you probably know the answer already.

So, after reading this article, my question was, why can’t police be chosen more carefully.  Lawyers use simple questioning to find witnesses who won’t be extremists.

Can’t we  ask them about their prejudices and then require them to come up with something positive to say about every group  represented in their community.

They are supposed to protect and serve the people in their communities, but I think that in some of these communities the police are just having a hard time seeing some people as “people.”

Praying for peace abroad and at home…

90’s Heartbreak!

There’s a finger snap, then I feel the beginning of heartbreak with the first few bars.  The chords remind me of high school, when everything was confusing, desperate and heartbreaking.

And when Luther Vandross begins to “oo-oo-ooh, yeah…”, At the beginning of ‘For You To Love,’ you know it’s about to be sad.

Then, even though I wasn’t trying to find a Luther Vandross song, as I sit in bed, in the darkness, with my headphones on listening to the music I didn’t know I had on my iphone,   I’m a prisoner to him now!  I can’t change once I hear his voice.  He was special that way.   And this song is just one of those songs that was sad years ago, but as I reminisce on it now, I’m happy.  I can’t help but smile as it evokes memories that helped me grow and become the me that I am today.

Bonnie Raitt sang I Can’t Make You Love Me (if you don’t), which I first heard on my prom night, in the limo, on my way home from the party.  I was there with the guy who invited me to the prom and with the girlfriend whom I invited-whether he wanted me to or not!!  A pitiful, great time.

I also had the  ShaniaTwain Album around that time, and The Woman in Me, lives right up there, on this alley of sadness, as well.  She beautifully lays her cards on the table, telling him she needs him.  Does he deliver?  I don’t know, but Shania delivers her song well.


Then there’s this beautiful woman.  Whitney Houston sang Living For the Love of You in that same era.  Now, you might rebut that this is not a sad song, but isn’t it?  To be living for the love of that one person.   There’s got to be more to a person than just waiting for and pining for some other person, no?  A goal, a need to help somebody else, moments alone for you own improvement, perhaps.  I’m just saying..


With the persistence of Luther’s pleas….I find myself asking that person he has come to see….won’t you open the door?!  just open the door.  There’s a hurricane, for heaven’s sake!  Let him in, with his satiny smooth voice. 

He might give you your favorite, unexpected, carried-away moment of the week.  I think he was mine!

Did you love Luther too?  Leave me a comment…


A Road to All Things Beautiful

The path to the Beach.  In the Hamptons
The path to the Beach. In the Hamptons.

The road.  We all have access to it.  Because here’s the thing….its not an actual road.  Its a state of mind. To write fiction is to gladly get lost in another world.  You could be next door or in another universe, it all depends on your mood.  It is true freedom and this is why I love it. But to create those worlds you need  knowledge and experience.  So this past week I hadn’t written much and felt a bit guilty until I had this epiphany. You have to get out!  Between living and creating, there has to be balance. So this week, I have taken time to do some beautiful things that have made my heart smile!!! It started with my beautiful gig in the Hamptons.  It’s a nice feeling to sing with your toes in the sand!

My mic stand, looking out at the beach.
My mic stand, looking out at the beach.

Then, I was able to see our friend Arjuna Routte-Prieur’s Art Exhibit at a gallery at Snug Harbor. When I met this young man he was just a creative 10 year old with pictures on his mother’s fridge and now we selfishly share in some of the pride felt by his awesome accomplishments! Check out his beautifully thought provoking work!

Arjuna's work.
Arjuna’s work.
Arjuna Routte-Prieur
Arjuna Routte-Prieur

We took the girls out for a boat ride, along with some of Ella’s friends.

Ella and her friends on the boat.
Ella and her friends on the boat.


I finished my library mystery, set in 1885 in Denver.  Not my favorite time period for Black folks,  but still a beautifully written and  interesting story…

Sandra Dallas- Fallen Women.
Sandra Dallas- Fallen Women.

Last but not least, I decided to braid my hair for a portion of the Summer.  Braids and Summer go hand in hand to me, but I wanted to try it on my own.  I hate sitting for hours and hours in the salon and I cannot take the pain. So for the first time, I did these Senegalese twists…  Here I am make-up free and tired, but finished.  Cheap, painless and easy!

My Braids.
My Braids.

Life.  There’s beauty in it all!

Got something to say?  Leave me a comment.


Introvertology Interview


Can Introverts do this? Yes we can.
Can Introverts do this? Yes we can.

After posting about being an introvert in the music business, I made a few new friends.  Thea at introvertology is one of them and I am honored to be one of the first people invited to an interview for her Introvertology site.

I had no idea that writing my (introverts in Music) article would strike such a chord, leading me to new connections to people who not only understand us quieter types, but who are also coming into their own pride in ownership of their introversion.

And in contrast to being quiet, I love how speaking up and voicing our opinions never fails to lead us right where we belong, with people who understand us, think the way we do and like us.

As the world gets louder, it can become very daunting.  So, it’s nice to have an experience like the one provided by this interview. It’s a reminder that we can still be heard in the middle of the noise.  We can still effectively share information that helps us continue to define what being an introvert means for each of us.

The girl in that picture above is an Introvert (among many other things)!

As G.I. Joe would say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Again, thanks to Thea@Introvertology.

Check out their site.  It is awesome and it has some great information for introverts and others.  I especially enjoyed the article on ways that introverts can relax.


Don’t forget to leave me a comment.  I love hearing from you.

NY Children’s Museum

Olivia in the City Splash section of CMOM
Olivia in the City Splash section of CMOM

After going to an orientation for Ella’s new kindergarten school this week, which she will be starting in the fall, we planned a whole day of fun.  Ella was super excited about seeing her new school.  She had been talking about it everyday for a whole week.  And as it turned out, we had to go into the city anyway after her orientation, so we decided to indulge her a little.

Ella, Olivia and my niece Kaulyn in the City splash section of CMOM
Ella, Olivia and my niece Kaulyn in the City splash section of CMOM

She asked us to take her to her favorite place, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.  But because we had just visited within the past month I was hesitant.  I will always be the mom who looks for fun AND inexpensive things to do,  CMOM is not that place!

Admission is $11 for adults and children over the age 0f 1 year old.  Every time I go there I end up asking the same question, why in the world do I need to pay that much?  We parents aren’t using these exhibits like the children, we’re just there to look after our little ones!

Communicating with the body
Communicating with the body

Luckily, like other moms, I mentally log coupon sites and other discount tips that I hear about in my comings and goings.  One of those valuable resources to always remember is the LIBRARY!!!!


Teaneck Public Library
Teaneck Public Library

Yes, your public library is a great place, loaded with great information and books that cost nothing to take for a test run.  Ours happens to also be super cute and they are always looking for great ways to serve the community.

I recently found out about one of those services.  They allow members in good standing to visit many NYC museums with their families for free!

I am thankful to the mom I met while reading in the children’s section to Ella and Olivia one day, for telling me about this.   I love how we moms often randomly share information that ends up having such an impact on our lives!  Things like this happen all the time.

Hooray, for all the moms I know who make up this super mom community I am so proud to be a part of!


Introverts in Music

With the amazing Raphael Saadiq and Kim Burrell, fighting my shyness for the  sake of the music.
With the amazing Raphael Saadiq and Kim Burrell, fighting my shyness for the sake of the music,  c. 2007.


When you grow up in a big family, you get a humbling sense early on of your worth in life.  You matter, but no more or less than anyone else.  Individual thoughts and feelings don’t always get validation, because there usually isn’t enough adult time and energy to devote to everyone.

I grew up the ninth of ten children.  I have noticed that outstanding behavior usually gets attention, whether it’s praise or scorn.  The quiet, normal, uneventful wallflower children usually get the least attention.  This has carried over into every aspect of life I can think of, from my education to my work as a musician.

I have started reading ‘Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking‘, by Susan Cain, which recognizes the growing popularization of the glorified extrovert.  Our culture can easily make quiet, shy and normal people feel painfully boring and even worse, like failures.

I always felt like that as a child, experiencing only a brief season in my life of pride in this fact, thanks to the mysterious, aloof, artist known as Prince.

I had a neighbor, who unbeknownst to her, made a not so friendly comment that stuck to my sensitive self and hasn’t left me yet.  Upon finding out that I sing, often in huge rooms full of strangers, for a living she remarked that she “didn’t see me as the type of person who could do that, because I don’t walk into the room demanding all the attention.”  Well!  I thought, as I fought back the onset of my rolling eyes and tried to close my gaping mouth, you don’t know very much about artists.  There are many of us, with many different personalities, some extroverted and introverted! We are, after all people too.

Yes, we get up on stage and rock out, or act out!  Yes, we bravely pour our hearts out onto a colorful canvas or a written page! Yes, we often take to social media to promote our work!  But we are still be introverts, who just happen to be passionate and driven about sharing what we’re proud of!

The art comes naturally, everything else is the work we all must do, (unless you are Prince who admittedly does not do any of it)!

Thanks Susan Cain, for a book that gives so much perspective and pride to the introvert.

I’ll be back to share my thoughts as I continue reading the book.  In the meantime, if you have read it or have a thought on the subject-even if you’re an introvert, leave me a comment!