You belong to the city
You belong to the night
In the river of darkness
He’s the man of the night
-“The City is Mine” by Jay-Z
I began to sing these words that make up the hook of Jay-Z’s “The City is Mine” from his album In My Lifetime: Vol. 1 when I first laid eyes on the cover art of Vincent P. Sanchez’s debut urban fiction novel, Angel’s Sin (Outskirts Press). I was blessed with the opportunity to meet with the up and coming author and interview him on December 2nd at the famous 40/40 Club in New York City. (Side note: The food and the drinks at the 40/40 Club are both banging) It was official. I was greeted when I arrived by a nice young lady who checked my name off of the guest list and directed to the room where the book signing for Angel’s Sin was taking place. The place was popping with every man and woman dressed, awaiting the man of the night, Vincent P. Sanchez. He arrived dressed like a don in a black suit with pinstripes and square-toed shoes. He looked fresh.
A native of Jamaica, Queens, Vincent P. Sanchez began crafting the first five chapters of Angel’s Sin a few years before completing it to be published in 2010. He revealed to me that his biggest struggle of the whole project was the marketing process for his novel. A fan of Steven King, Dean Koontz, and James Patterson, Sanchez’s personal experiences coming up during the catastrophic crack epidemic are what fuel him to create Angel’s Sin. Sanchez learned many hard lessons on love, loyalty, and life. It was not until he spent time in prison, that he discovered his passion for writing.
The urban fiction novel, Angel’s Sin is a story about Victor Johnson, who goes by the name, Angel, witnessing the murder of a neighborhood drug dealer. Sincere, Angel’s brother, also witnesses the murder at the hands of King, a local drug kingpin. They escape their own deaths once they are discovered by King and his right-hand man, Breeze. King and Breeze are two of the most dangerous men in South Jamaica, Queens. Instead of automatically killing both boys, King approaches them with a proposition: To either become a street soldier for King or be murdered. Once Angel and Sincere choose to live a life of crime, their lives are never the same. According to Sanchez, he sets himself apart from the literary competition by stepping from the norm, providing a different angle of portrayal.
Angel’s Sin is a story of how one decision can create a butterfly effect that will leave a long-lasting impression upon an individual’s soul. It is a story of survival, loyalty, betrayal, and death. It is an inspirational coming-of-age story that is definitely a page-turner. There are moments that may make you shed a tear, burst out laughing, or clutch your pearls in shock and amazement.
I appreciate the play on words that I was able to pull from Angel’s Sin. Angel commits sin after sin, after sin. These sins include the ones committed against others as well as the ones committed against him. Angel is far from a holy man. The term sin also refers to Sincere, Angel’s brother. The two young men have an indelible bond between each other. In the novel they both share this motto for love: “The love you show me is the love I show you. Fifty-fifty love ‘til the sun burns out.” There is nothing like brotherly love. Sin is also the Spanish term meaning without, which signifies the emptiness within Angel. Even though he gains money, power, and respect in the streets, he remains unfulfilled. Zane, Angel’s love interest, is almost like an angel in disguise who gives his life new meaning. She shows him unconditional love and brings out the best in her man. She opens her man’s eyes to a whole different world outside of street hustling. This angel gives birth to a Sin. I applaud Sanchez for his skills.
Vincent P. Sanchez plans on transforming the novel into a movie. Bringing the characters of Angel’s Sin onto the big screen will be a great move for the author. I cannot think of any other urban fiction novel that has been made into a movie. (You can correct me if I am wrong) Sanchez has two other books that are still in the making, Cheaters and The Last Witness. From writer to another, I wish him much success.
You can purchase your copy of Angel’s Sin at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Outskirtspress.com/Angelssin.
Do you ever find yourself complaining about the same thing over and over again? I do. Honestly, I am disappointed that I complain about this for 365 days a year. I have read that if this is the only thing to complain about, then there’s nothing really to complain about. In my bedroom I have a note written on a post-it above my desk to stop complaining about this. I hate to talk about this, but often it is virtually inevitable. If you know what it is like to have a blood-thirsty bug buzz by your ear, then you have an idea of how it makes me feel when I complain about money.
When most people see me walk down the streets, step into my job, drive my car, or show up at any function, they see what an ex-friend of mine used to call me: “Money Girl.” I am told that I look rich. I have champagne taste on a ripple budget (that’s why I love Forever 21). I tell people all of the time that I am not rich, but blessed. Lately, I have been taking the time out to tell God that I am thankful for my blessings, especially those things that I know I didn’t deserve, but were given to me anyhow. I give thanks not only to express my gratitude to God, but to teach myself to stop complaining about money. Growth has allowed me to give thanks, but I still find myself complaining about money.
When my paycheck is directly deposited into my checking account and I go down the list of the creditors I have to pay back, the groceries to purchase, the gasoline to pump for the week, the events that I have been invited to, and see that I am giving all of my money away to everyone but myself, I get pissed. I know that I am always going to have a bill, but it’s the other things like, for example, when I make plans to do something and my plans get interrupted by something unexpected that I’m always unprepared for financially. I have savings accounts that are empty and this upsets me. I am horrible when it comes to managing my money. When I make attempts to improve the way I handle my money and my reality doesn’t match up with my expectation, I become disappointed and I complain.
I have made a lot of mistakes with money—from taking out unnecessary loans and acquiring too many credit cards to impulse shopping and being a dupe of instant gratification. I feel absolutely ashamed of myself. I know that I have improved the way that I spend my money, yet I feel that I am not improving fast enough. I believe that I could be doing more to be more effective in correcting all of my wrongs. When I try to cut back on things like going out and I get accused of being cheap, it hurts me. Sometimes I end up spending my money to avoid hearing other people’s comments and I beat myself up about it later. I also cross my fingers, hoping that I don’t overdraft and being slammed with the $34 fee per overdraft. Like that annoying blood-thirsty bug buzzing by, I just want it to stop and go away—the shame, the disappointment, and the complaining.
Now that I am finally getting this off my chest, I feel as though I am not only complaining about money, but I am complaining about being an adult and having a life. I love my life and I love being an adult. I am gifted and healthy. I am never without food. I’m single, yet I am never lonely. There are those days where I’m just getting by and feeling majorly terrible because my checking account needs CPR. I know that God has been good to me and always will, which is why I know that I must make it a priority to stop complaining about money. I once heard Joel Osteen say to complain is to remain. I don’t want to remain, I want to increase. As long as I continue to press forward and be more forgiving to myself, eventually, my money will be straight and being a money girl will no longer be just an illusion.
Have you ever felt that you were too broke to be in relationship? Do you feel that way now? Is it necessary to have your finances in order before you look for that special someone? I hear women say all of the time that they can’t get with a man who is broke. A good number of them are straight up lying. Musiq Soulchild has a song title “Money Right” in which he sings, “As soon as I get my money right, I’ll take good care of you.” Are there women out there, who, if they heard that line from a man, would they wait for him? I’ve never heard a man say that he didn’t get with a woman because she was strapped for cash.
I am working, putting myself through college, and repairing my credit all at the same time. Many times I have said that I am too broke to be in a relationship. Not only do relationships require time, but they also require money. I barely have either. A man has never boldy told me that he couldn’t be with me because I’m economically challenged; however, I think that my finances were part of the reason that one guy discontinued seeing me. He had made a brief appearance in my life. I had the strongest feeling that he was here for all the wrong reasons. Once I told him what my salary is, he soon vanished. Hmmm…nah, he was just the equivalent of those lint balls you find in the pocket of your jeans. Maybe he had been looking for a sponsor.
Numerous times I have jokingly said that I need a sugar daddy. How many of you have said you needed a sponsor? It would be awesome to have somebody throw some cash my way and take some of the stress off me, but I know that shit ain’t realistic. A sponsor is not the answer. A sponsor is another pain in the ass who will end up on the Do Not Pick Up list on my Iphone. Besides, my heart won’t let me beat someone in the head just to get my Visa bill paid. I always wondered what men and women have said to their sponsor to get him or her to drop their ducats. What extremes have they gone to in order to get others to pay for their shit?
Looking at the bigger picture, I know that my financial status will change for the better. The job that I have pays its employees based on their education level. My knowledge is increasing and I am gradually progressing at my job. I am closer to the level where I know that I will be. It’s clearly very easy for me to be sidetracked from the positive to dwell on the negative, but I am so glad that I have the ability to shift back into the right gear. 2 Corinthians 4:18 reads: “So we fix our eyes not what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” Yeah, I’m having some financial technical difficulties right now, but it will not be forever. Yeah, money isn’t everything, but it means a lot when you have it and able to fund your lifestyle. So until I get my money straight, single is what I will be.
I love to dance. I can to dance to any genre of music and I don’t have any ounce of formal training. I just watched and mimicked what other people did at parties and on television. When I hear the music I cannot help myself. I feel the music. I become one with the music. People have complimented my dance skills. Some have said that I dance like a video vixen. I don’t see it that way, but they’re entitled to their opinion.
When I go out, I dance to keep from becoming bored. I am a homebody, and I will find any excuse to be at home. To keep myself from being a party-pooper, I dance. Just because I dance, don’t automatically assume that I am having a good time. A party could be lame as hell even though there is music playing in the background. Many times I have blurted, “I really could have stayed home and saved my money.” Some times it’s just to keep people from asking me why I am not dancing. Other times, dancing gives me the opportunity to be silly. Many girls dance for attention. When I dance, I dance in my own little world as though no one is watching me. I dance like it’s my last day on Earth.
Dancing is a part of my “me time.” I purposely purchased a smaller bed so that I would have more space for dancing. Sometimes I even bust out my hula-hoop and I hula-hoop to the music. I was able to teach myself a couple of tricks. I taught myself how to jump and turn while the hula-hoop is circling my waist. I was also able to accomplish having me and the hula-hoop turn in opposite directions for a brief moment. This would come in handy if I were to do a talent show. (Who needs a talent show now when there’s YouTube ?)
A coworker once told me that I missed my calling to become a dancer. Do I really dance that well? I never considered dancing a career choice for me. Dancing is what I do when I have trouble writing my thoughts down. Dancing makes me happy. It’s a simple pleasure that I don’t plan on giving up until I am stiff in my coffin.
What’s your simple pleasure? How do you spend your “me time?”
There is only about two weeks left to see the Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) .
Gentrification is a reality that has been impacting the borough of Brooklyn for a number of years. In the art exhibit located in Brooklyn at the James E. Davis Arts Building on 80 Hanson Place, are works of art that capture each of the artists’ personal critiques on the changes that are taking place in the borough that many love, including me. Over twenty artists have put in their creativity and hard work to get people to look deeper into the transformation of the economic and social landscape of Brooklyn.
The Gentrification of Brooklyn exhibit is a great opportunity to be educated about the past, present, and future of Brooklyn. The showcased artwork in the exhibit is provocative, eye-opening, and has everyone asking, “Is it white flight or gentrification?” This is a great question to ask friends, family, and coworkers.
The exhibit will definitely create a dialogue within the community.
Definitely make time to get down to MoCADA to view this incredible exhibit. If you’re an educator, like me, schedule a tour for your students. For questions, call (718) 230-0492 or visit www.mocada.org.
God has been good to me. He always has been good to me. As I grow older and wiser, I also grow more independent. Nothing demonstrates independence like having a car. I just recently bought my first car and this blessing couldn’t have come at a better time. As the saying goes, “He may not come when you want him, but he is always on time.”
This blessing came to me after a very short prayer. I had just missed for buses on my way to my mother’s house. While waiting for the next bus to come, I made the declaration that I was going to get a car. Missing those four buses was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was so fed up with the MTA that day. I was tired of the MTA snatching up my eighty-nine dollars for a monthly unlimited MetroCard and being subjected to poor service, smelly buses and train cars, being forced to hear random retarded conversations from people of all ages about nonsense, and witnessing jerks dressed in the flyest gear getting free rides after telling bus drivers some sob story of not having bus fare. When that bus arrived, I boarded, sat down in my seat, bowed my head and prayed to God to bless me with the resources to buy a car and that I was going to get a car by any means necessary.
A week after that prayer, I became the owner of a Nissan Altima. The car came fully loaded with everything but the kitchen sink. It has leather interior, heated driver and passenger seats, GPS, blue tooth so I can talk on my phone hands free, and a rearview camera that shows me how close or how far I am from the curb or another car. It’s great on gas and goes really fast. I didn’t expect to leave the dealership with a luxury car even though I feel that I really deserve it because I am a hard worker and because I’m cute. I am truly blessed. Isn’t God great?
I recently read a blog on Naked With Socks On titled: “Are Your Friends Cute? (They’re Not Stop Lying).” The blog asks readers if they are truthful when they tell others that their friends are cute. Blogger, Anslem Samuel, doesn’t believe that everybody has cute friends, and he’s right. Fortunately, I don’t have that dilemma. My female and male friends all possess the cute gene.
I am not talking about that conventional beauty nonsense. We are all black and beautiful men and women. Wherever we go we turn heads. I wouldn’t have a problem setting up any one of my friends on a blind date. I wouldn’t have to lie and say they looked like some gorgeous celebrity if I knew damn well they looked like a gremlin. If my friends looked like gremlins, I would not set them on any blind dates. My friends are all attractive and look good from any angle. They are not one-dimensional.
In addition to our killer good looks, we possess beautiful spirits. We all have home training, so we know how to carry ourselves in public. We’re smart; we all have college degrees. We are unique and we have class. We look good inside and out. Not too many people can truthfully say that all of their friends are cute. I, on the other hand, can put my hand on a Bible and swear that all my friends are beautiful without worrying about lightning striking me.
The one question that I can’t stand being asked is, “Why are you single?” People don’t understand why such a beautiful, intelligent, and well-rounded young lady, such as me, is not in a relationship. The looks that I get from the people when I tell them that I am single are looks of disappointment and sadness. Do I have to be in a relationship? I guess not, or else I would be in one. I am constantly asked this question and I am annoyed every time I hear it. Coworkers ask me this question as well as men that I meet for the first time. They all can’t believe it. Well, believe it. And leave it be.
To be a single person is not a horrible thing, but it can be painfully boring at times. The boredom comes when things become mundane. Boredom can easily be alleviated, though. There are millions of activities out there for me to take advantage of to knock out being bored. I dance, I cook, I read, I go for walks, I take myself to dinner, I visit my friends, and I go on joy rides around the city. For now, that’s all I can afford to fit into my schedule and budget, but I feel good; I enjoy myself, but I have to make sure to keep switching up on activities. While I am doing any of these activities, I never feel like I could be having a better time if I were sharing the moment with a man. It’s really not that serious. I love me and I enjoy my own company.
I am a free-spirited person by nature, so being single is actually a good thing. I am able to come and go as I please. There’s nobody who I have to report my whereabouts to. There’s nobody to get in the way of going where I want to go. I don’t have to worry about anybody feeling left out because it’s just me. The only person that I account for is me. I’m never disappointed because the things I have to do are done the way that I like them to be done. I don’t flaunt my independence; instead I cherish it because the day may come when I will have to sacrifice some of it.
Being single is just as beautiful as being in a relationship, so I am not going to sit here and be depressed and feel lonely just because I am single. I am going to ride this until the wheels fall off. There’s too many good things going on in my life to feel bent out of shape because I don’t have a man. I have a family who loves me to pieces; I love me (what’s there not to love? I’m spectacular); and I’m employed at a job that has room for growth. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I focus on what I have. There is nothing disappointing or sad about that.
I just got my hands on the new Nintendo DSi XL and it is so cool. I got it for a really belated Christmas present; however, it came to me right in time because I desperately need a temporary escape from all the madness that surrounds me with this school work and all. On a day to day basis there is always a piece of literature that I have to read or write and just as it was beginning to become unbearable, this brand new play thing came to take the stress away. Hallelujah!
Equipped with a larger screen, the Nintendo DS i XL is 93% larger than the Nintendo DSi Lite system. I can take photos with any of the two built-in cameras. I can surf the internet, play music, and, of course, play games like New Super Mario Bros.—my favorite. It also comes pre-installed with Brain Age Express: Math, Brain Age Express: Arts and Letters, and Photo Clock. My jaw dropped when I learned that my brain age is 80. Yowza!
I was disappointed when I realized that the Nintendo DS i XL system did not come with headphones. Priced at $189.99, it should come with headphones. Other than that, it’s a great system to have. It’s easy to manipulate. Nothing is too technical. It’s great for young and old people. It comes in two colors: Bronze and Burgundy. I have the bronze, which honestly looks more like mocha than bronze. I heard the burgundy system is ugly, so get your hands on the bronze while supplies last.
God bless the people of Nintendo for providing an escape for those, like me, who need a break from their school work and those who get a kick out playing video games. I am going to take my play thing wherever I go so whenever there’s a moment where life seems like it’s giving me a hard time, I will be able to whip out this bad boy to take the stress away.
For one hundred fifty big ones, anyone would expect nothing but the best from the multi-million dollar, multiple grammy winning, uber talented Miss Alicia Keys. At her March 19th concert at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, she presented the crappiest stage performance I’ve ever witnessed.
I had heard that her concert at Madison Square Garden, which took place the night before was spectacular. It included appearances by Beyonce and Jay-Z. I didn’t think that they would show up at the Prudential Center, but I didn’t think that Alicia would put less than one hundred percent into her New Jersey concert. Boy, was I wrong.
First of all, I arrived at the concert an hour late, so I was already annoyed. I blame my best friend for not allowing enough travel time to drive from Brooklyn to New Jersey on a Friday. I also blame my other friend for being too “pretty” to walk four blocks to the Holland Tunnel, making my best friend leave from an already congested Canal Street to pick her ass up in front of her job. No one told her to put on high heels. If I were driving, I would have told her sadiddy self to find her own damn way to the concert and to pick her ticket up at the box office. I hate being late for anything, especially a concert that I paid one hundred fifty dollars for a ticket. It took a total of an hour and twenty minutes to get from the Brooklyn Bridge to the entrance of the Holland Tunnel. I showed up just in time to see the last eight minutes of Robin Thicke. He and Melanie Fiona opened for Alicia Keys. I didn’t get to see Melanie Fiona. At least I showed up in time for the headliner. I was sure that I was in for a treat from Miss Keys, or so I thought.
Alicia was anything but impressive. Don’t get me wrong. She did sing her popular songs. She sang my favorites like “Diary” and “Unthinkable (I’m Ready).” I wasn’t engaged. I really could have saved my money. I thought maybe I had been spoiled by the hardest working woman in show business, Beyonce, but that wasn’t it. I had also been to Ne-Yo’s, John Legend’s, and Maxwell’s concerts and they all grabbed me. They all don’t do a booty-pop like Beyonce, yet they all still had my attention. I felt a connection. Alicia bored the daylights out of me. I did like when she had brought out her key-shaped electric keyboard. That was cute, but it wasn’t enough. Her concert just didn’t have that WOW factor.
I wasn’t moved by the outfit she chose to wear on stage. It was as tacky as hell and should have been placed on the worst dressed list. She wore an army green military inspired tuxedo jacket with silver sequin skinny pants. Alicia? Really? I get dressed in the dark, and I still come up with better outfits than that one. I don’t know why celebs think that they can get away with ridiculous outfits. What was her stylist thinking?
So what do you get when you put together a long drive to an over-priced concert that featured a boring performance from a poorly dressed Alicia Keys that you showed up late to? The Element of Being Cheated. I never felt so robbed. My friends cheated me out of seeing a concert from beginning to end by leaving late and getting caught up in traffic. Alicia Keys gave the most lackluster performance in my life. I really think that she gave New York her best and gave New Jersey her worst. So I was left to go back home to Brooklyn, feeling annoyed as well as cheated out of what should have been a great concert and one hundred fifty dollars. I am never going to another concert again.