top of page

Search Results

12 items found for ""

  • The Glass Castle Book Review

    I purchased "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls as an audiobook, but I loved it so much I bought a hard copy—to digest it more thoroughly, hoping the honest depictions would inspire my own writing. There is one promise her father makes that she hangs onto—to build a glass castle. The author, Jeannette, grew up in a family of six, marked by poverty, neglect, and abuse. Her father, who was an alcoholic, and her mother, who was an artist, lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving from place to place, often living in poverty. So much so that Jeannette and her siblings often went without food. As a young child, Jeannette adored her father, always believing he would carry through with his promises. She's was caught between her child-like trust and the reality of a father who doesn't follow through. There is one promise her father makes—to build a glass castle, that she hangs onto. But as Jeannette grows older, the castle begins to symbolize all of his broken promises. Jeannette describes in details the complex and often traumatic experiences she and her siblings faced. Despite the difficult circumstances, Jeannette's parents instilled in her and her siblings a sense of resilience and self-reliance. They were taught to be resourceful, fend for themselves, and never give up on their dreams. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and emotional read. "The Glass Castle" is a powerful and moving memoir that stayed with me long after reading it. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder that, no matter how difficult our circumstances may be, we can always find a way to overcome them. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and emotional read. Note: My "what I'm reading" posts are unsolicited Want to know what else I'm reading? The House At Sugar Beach Educated

  • The Girl Who Lived in Our Backyard

    We went to bed without eating the first night we moved into our green house. There were no groceries except a twenty-five-pound bag of rice on the kitchen floor, a live chicken someone had brought as a housewarming gift, and a few cans of sardines. Mommy planned to make a meal of rice and sardines using an electric skillet she pulled out of her suitcase, but as soon as she plugged the cord into the kitchen socket, the electricity went out. So, we went to bed hungry. My stomach pinched, and I couldn’t sleep. My stomach pinched, and I couldn't sleep. Bertie and I lay in bed tossing and turning for what seemed like hours until—the smell of food wafted through our bedroom window and made our tummies rumble. We got out of bed and peeked through the shady screen. To our amazement, there in our backyard were three dark figures hovered over an open fire. A lantern hung above the flames, and steam rose from a pot. The tantalizing mixture of smoky, savory meat created a mouth-watering fragrance infused with hints of sizzling fat and spices. The aroma carried by the wind drifted through the air and beckoned us. But we were afraid. I looked at Bertie. "Who's in our backyard? What if it's the Heartmen." I said. Rosy and Becky warned us about the Heartmen. "Don't go outside after dark. You never know when the Heartmen are out. They don't play favorites and will take out the heart of anyone they find roaming in the dark." "Those people live in the yard. Go back to bed." Bertie and I ran into Rosy and Becky's room and jumped in bed. "Strangers are outside in the backyard." Becky lifted her head. "Those people live in the yard. Go back to bed." The following morning, Bertie and I studied the scene outside the open window. A man, a woman, and a small child sat under the lean-to as if they had never moved all night. Bertie screamed with excitement, "Look, a little girl." "Let's go play with her." We ran past moving boxes and scattered furniture and started out the front door when Mommy stopped us. "Where are you going?" "We're going to play with the girl in our yard." Before Mommy could say anything, we ran out the door, down the long steps, around the carport, and to the back of the yard. The man greeted us. "Mehn." We didn't answer, so he spoke in English. "Mornin'." We looked over at the little girl. "Mornin'." "My name is Matta." "My name is Bertie." "My name is Georgie." Mata kicked her feet, clapped her hands, and grabbed ours. "Let's play Knock-foot," "Knock-foot? What's that?" Matta shuffled about like a dancing orangutan. I thought she looked ridiculous, but Bertie imitated her. Together they kicked their feet, clapped their hands, and laughed hysterically. Soon I joined in the fun. We couldn't believe it. Our very first Liberian friend came ready-made and lived in our backyard. We played Knock-Foot and Kol— another hand-and-foot game, with Matta for a solid week. Both games required too much coordination to master, but we played anyway until dark. We climbed the fence, played in the sand, and ate peanuts together. But our friendship didn't last. Our landlord had hired Matta's dad to keep strangers off the property when the house was vacant, but now we lived there, and the landlord insisted they leave. We watched Matta drudge behind her parents on the day they left, carrying a knapsack full of her belongings. Tears fell while she walked through our iron gate. Bertie and I were upset too, and we couldn't understand why we couldn't keep our ready-made backyard friend. We never saw Matta again, and the pain stuck with me for a long while. ~ a short excerpt from a WIP You might also enjoy these excerpt Swamp Life Africa's Embrace The House At Sugar Beach (a book review)

  • Swamp Life

    Banana trees grew on the other side of the fence next to a small Bassa community, and a magnificent swamp landscaped our neighborhood. The pepper bird awoke the mornings, and Bertie and I morphed into white fairy princesses who often waded through the swamp waters on the backs of African boys. I always wanted to obey, but Bertie often drugged me into the perils of wrongdoing. Saturday and Friday were brothers, named after the very days they were born on. They walked through the open gate one morning and asked if we wanted to play in the swamp. They promised to cook kissmes—snails for us if we’d go fishing with them. Mommy warned us about the swampy waters and forbid us to go in. If our feet touched the mud-caked marshland, we would undoubtedly get a spanking, except I never remember Mommy carrying through with her threats. On the other hand, Daddy would send us into a bush to cut our own switches if we disobeyed. I always wanted to obey, but Bertie often dragged me into the perils of wrongdoing. “Georgie, let’s go. Mommy and Daddy aren’t home.” Bertie said. My rebel-born sister persuaded me to go along with the boys down the hill to the murky waters. She followed them, and I followed her—through the front gate and down the narrow path to the pond's edge. I gazed longingly at the vast chocolate lake. The air was thick with the sounds of croaking frogs and buzzing insects. I turned to run back to the house. But the brothers motioned us toward the waters. “Our Ma said we can’t go into the swamp,” I shouted. “Don’t worry. We won’t let you get wet.” And then Saturday squatted low to the ground. “Bertie. Jump on.” Bertie placed her arms around Saturday's neck and climbed onto his back. Saturday stood, cuffed his arms under Bertie's knees, and walked toward the shallow water. Friday got on all fours, his hands and knees touched the ground, and he beckoned me. "Georgie, climb up." I couldn’t resist either, so I hiked up my dress and straddled his back, and he pulled himself to his feet. I squeezed my first and second toes around the thong of my flip-flops to keep them from falling off. Bertie and I held on for dear life while the two brothers stepped into the thick mire and shuffled through. Our legs dangled just high enough from the surface to keep our feet from touching the top of the slush. As we moved deeper into the swamp, the ground grew softer and more unstable, causing the brothers to sink deeper into the muck. I squeezed my first and second toes around the thong of my flip-flops to keep them from falling off. The boys carried us from one dry spot to another and set us down on islands of scorched mud while they fished for kissmes. Saturday took the tin cup hung around his neck by a string and handed it to Bertie. He pushed his hands deep into the muddy waters and pulled up a handful of gunk. Bertie held the tin can away from her body, and Saturday stretched as far as he could toward her and plopped his findings into the cup. I squinched my nose to rid my nostrils of the stinky water. “Yuck.” The boys laughed and continued to fish for the slimy snails. I wondered what they would taste like. “Georgie... Bertie… come home!” I heard our names come across the top of the water and looked in the direction from which it came. My sister, Rosy stood outside the iron gate at the top of the hill, waving her arms in the air. When Bertie was ever my tempter, Rosy became my redeemer. Rosy and Becky fussed over us like mothers, and Rosy doted on me. We would be in trouble if Daddy and Mommy came home and found us in the swamp, and Rosy didn’t want to see me get whipped. The brothers worked fast and pulled up more dirt than snails until the cup overflowed. Saturday put the now-heavy tin can back around his neck, and Bertie stepped off the island and onto his back. I climbed onto Friday and traveled again across the swamp, careful to keep my toes in the air, for by now, the water had risen. With each step, the boys struggled to pull their feet free. This time, our heels dragged through the mud. One of my flip-flops fell in. I wasn't going to risk getting any dirtier to retrieve it, so the slipper stayed stuck in the mud. When we reached the shore, I scrambled to my feet, heart pounding, and began to run as fast as I could up the hill and in the direction of the house. Rosy flared her arms. "Georgie, why did you girls go into the swamp? I could hear the drumming in my chest. I looked back and pointed at Bertie. On the west side of our yard, just under the kitchen window, Saturday washed the snails with clean water from the spigot. Friday gathered a small stack of sticks and placed them on smooth stones. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a box of matches from under the cabinet. Becky’s hands were in the dishwater. She gave me a side-eye and pointed her finger at me. I kept my head down and ran back outside. We needed to get the kissmees cooked and eaten before Daddy and Mommy got home. Saturday got the small fire going, and before long, the water and the snails in the tin can were boiling. At first, we didn’t know how to eat the long slender snails, but the brothers showed us how. “Put the butt end of the snail to your lips and suck out the meat.” They shouted, “Kiss me. Kiss me,” as we sucked in the slimy snail. And we all laughed hysterically. The forbidden marsh brought Bertie and me a world of adventure that day, and many adventures followed. ~ an excerpt from WIP memoir You might also enjoy this excerpt Those Green Corduroy Pants

  • Africa's Embrace

    We had almost reached Liberia when our ship stopped in the neighboring country of Guinea, where a few passengers left our company for good. Bertie and I were hoisted down a rope ladder into a tow boat and taken ashore. Two of the passengers on the ship, a Liberian couple, rode in the boat with us. I'm not sure why we were separated from Daddy and Mommy, but when we set foot on shore, my mind's only focus was a long dusty road. I knew that Africa and I would get along just fine. I felt the sensation when I squatted on the ground that day—my bottom tipped downward, and my hands opened while I reached to slap the strange, orange earth—that the continent longed for me, and I for her. The West African soil looked nothing like the white snow I had held three weeks earlier, the day we left New York City. Before my fingertips touched the ground, a cloud of fine dust powdered the front of my dress—my knees—my socks, and my shoes. The dry clay smudged my face and hair and clung to me like a friendly ghost. Even though we had not yet reached Liberia, at that moment, I knew she and I would get along just fine. I can feel the weakening of my tender heart and hear the voice that startled me even now when the Liberian lady, whose hand I held just minutes before, jerked my arm to pull me off the ground. "Get up. What ting happen to you? Your Ma will get vexed with me." I had let the dirt lure me in. Shy and ashamed, I stayed in tearful silence until we returned to the vessel. This first remembrance of West Africa lodged in my brain often repeated itself—me, covered in red clay, and some grown-up fussing about it, while all along, I couldn't help it. Africa and I had embraced and loved each other from the start. ~ an excerpt from a WIP memoir You might also enjoy this excerpt I Hold Your Foot.

  • Girls Don't Wear Pants

    The shiny green pantsuit called out to me, its voice coming from the depths of what seemed like a forest—a luscious green corduroy forest. The ribs in the fabric stood straight like trees in the sun. I ran my hand over it. It felt like velvet. And it wasn’t a dress. Early mornings, while Mommy cooked breakfast, Bertie and I sat on short stools while ‘I Love Lucy'' played on a small black-and-white television. After breakfast and the dishes were done, she called us into the kitchen and hoisted us beside the white galvanized sink. "Lay on the counter and keep your head over the sink, Mommy said. Legs dangling over the edge of the counter, we tried to hold our heads still so Mommy could wash our hair without getting shampoo in our eyes. But I could never be still, and I thrashed my head back and forth as Mommy washed and rinsed. Afterward, she gave us a washcloth bath since we were too big to sit in the sink. And then we stood on the drain while she dressed us. We had plenty of clothes to wear. Mommy sewed long lace strings on our dresses' edges and made sure we always matched. Thus, strangers often asked whether or not we were twins. When I look at pictures of Bertie and me at that age, we were always well-kept and clean, clothed in a dress or blouse-skirt ensemble with white socks and black shoes. Our hair neat and in ringlets. At least, this was how we looked in our Sunday best pictures. On other days we wore hand-me-downs or thrift store finds. That's how a hunter-green corduroy pantsuit hand-me-down showed up on top of a pile of clothes beside the sink the day I spotted it. If Mommy had not intended for me to wear it, I'm not sure why it laid out in plain sight. But the outfit she picked up to put on me that day was a dress. "Mommy, I want to wear the green one," I said. "What green one?" "The green pants." "I'm sorry, but you can't wear that," she said. "Why can't I?" "Because" He often looked under my skirt, even though I tried hard to keep the front of it lodged in the soil as my legs spread wide in a seated position. Because did not sound like a good enough reason to deny the longing that danced in my head. I wanted to look like the little black girls that played outside our fenced yard, although sometimes their hand-me-down pants were filled with holes. The green corduroy pantsuit looked new, and I longed to wear it. I also rationalized that Johnny, the white boy living in the apartment below, couldn't look under my dress when we played in the dirt if I wore pants. He often looked under my skirt, even though I tried hard to keep the front of it lodged in the soil as my legs spread wide in a seated position. How else could a three-year-old wearing a dress play in the dirt? And Johnny always peeked. I wanted to step into its green glory, feel each leg slide down the holes, and see my feet emerge from the hemline. I sensed Mommy wanted to please me, but something held her back. If I kept asking, maybe she would change her mind. I wanted to step into its green glory, feel each leg slide down the holes, and see my feet emerge from the hemline. I was determined. "Mommy, I want to wear the green one," I asked, day after day. One day she finally responded with an honest answer. "You can't wear it because your daddy doesn't want you girls wearing pants." "But why," I said. "Just because." If Daddy said, "Just because," then there must have been a good reason. We rarely crossed him. The fight was over, and I conceded, never again asking to wear the green pantsuit. Having gone to a fundamental Bible college in Canada, Daddy adopted ideals of acceptable and unacceptable conduct for Christians, including what Christians should and shouldn't wear. In the 60s, many evangelical groups stood firm on these same fundamental values, and one of them was girls didn't wear pants. ~ an excerpt from WIP memoir Here's another WIP excerpt - The Dreamer

  • 2 Types of Tribes you need to Survive while Writing a book.

    I'm a little less-than-a-year wiser—a new writer, in rough form, I might add. Embarking on my journey of memoir writing has been both daunting and rewarding. And time-consuming. In addition, there's been a lot of soul-searching, but I'll save that for another post. Let's get straight to the subject of finding your tribes. Yes, tribes. Suppose you are serious about completing a significant writing project like I am. Let me suggest two types of groups that will help you survive your journey. Finding them should be your top priority. Tribe No. 1 - Writing Group/s No. 1 - Writing Group/s The What: Find a writing group or groups of like-minded individuals who can: (a) teach you new writing craft concepts; (b) give honest feedback on your rough submissions; and (c) share writing opportunities. More often than not—I prefer the people in these groups to be strangers. Taking criticism from an unbiased and previously unknown character is much easier. At least, for me, it is. You need a group that will motivate you, but also give honest feedback on your work. Why not bare the brunt of criticism beforehand. Because future readers will be brutally honest, we need to get all the upfront critiques we can before our words are exposed—printed—for all to see? The How: Search for local writing chapters in your area. I'm a member of Word Weavers International. which has chapters all over that world. Involvement in my local chapter has been a game changer for my writing. Word Weavers have both in person and on-line groups. Their forum is primarily for Christian writers with writers of all levels. I also participate in FB and instagram groups, but be selective with these. Some are more for entertainment and promotion than quality information. Another great source I use is an online critique forum called Critique Circle. I've found some really great editors here, and it's free. But you'll need thick skin for some of the feedback. Tribe No. 2 - Prayer/Support Groups No. 2 - A Prayer Tribe The What: Find a prayer or support group of heart-guarded individuals. Notice the word guarded. These are individuals that will emphatically guard your heart. This doesn't necessarily mean your best buds or the ones you enjoy hanging out with, although it could be. For me, the best prayer/support partners are often people who are a little bit removed from my daily life, yet, they are people who I've known for a long while. Ones I have skin-in-the-game with—and I know they can be trusted to guard my heart. The How: Think of the people whose lives you may have, at one time, invested something of value in. An old friend from college, a colleague from a previous job, someone you took a trip with once—and you really connected. It could even be your very best friend. Just not that brand new person who seems to be a superhuman prayer warrior. They haven't been in the trenches of life with you, so don't burden them. You'll both end up disappointed. If you have a large social circle, I advise having five or six support partners, although one or two crucial partners is adequate. You know the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child." Well, the same holds true for successful writers. I'll say it like this. "It takes a whole tribe of people to create a compelling story." Happy Writing.

  • The House At Sugar Beach

    In 2009, I sat on my couch, turning page after page. With each scene, I envisioned myself. A child growing up in Liberia—as Helene described in her book the stages of her childhood and adolescence that were so strikingly similar to mine. I've read The House At Sugar Beach multiple times and recently perused it again. It's one of my favorite memoirs. With each scene, I envisioned myself. A child growing up in Liberia. For the most part, the author's life and mine were in contrast. She was born in Liberia as ‘Congo,’ (an Americo-Liberian)—her great-great-great-great grandfather, Elijah Johnson, was one of the founding fathers of the country. I was also born in Liberia, but was American. White. And the daughter of foreign missionaries. Nonetheless, we share memories: rogues, country devils, "Old Man Beggar," Relda theater, luscious beaches, up-country, war, exile—and a return visit. I wasn't prepared for the book to conclude as it did. The book begins with Helene, a young girl living in a twenty-two-room oceanfront mansion on Sugar Beach in the West African country of Liberia—complete with all the luxuries granted the life of the country's wealthy elite. The details are enchanting, reminiscent of a fairy tale. But the gradeous life is drastically altered when the government is overthrown by the "Country People" (descendants of the indigenous people) in a bloody coup. Helene's family and the entire ‘Congo’ class of people find themselves on the run. She moves to America, leaving a beloved half-sister behind, until one day, decades later, she returns to Liberia— searching for her sister, and a lost childhood. I admit, I wasn't prepared for the book to end as it did. An additional chapter may have tied off the concluding details with greater ease. I wanted to know more. Even so, it doesn't detract from the overall brilliance with which this unique piece of personal history is written. The author’s persistence in both historical research and years of drafting should be commended for its accuracy and creativity. The House At Sugar Beach should be required reading for anyone studying African history and/or the African-American experience. It brings the story of slavery full circle in a surprising and engaging perspective. ~ Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent with The New York Times. In 2015, she was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, for her work in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic. Note: My "what I'm reading" posts are unsolicited Another great memoir by Tara Westover Educated

  • Educated

    Wow! I just finished the incredible true story of Tara Westover, a touching yet tragic story that should be hailed a classic. The memoir has been out for a few years, but I was just recently made aware of it. Educated was a tough read for me—because of the injustices Tara experiences as a child. In truth, it is one of those page turners that I had to put down—often. There are scenes so painfully described it's difficult to imagine how someone who grew up in such circumstances could write about it with such brilliance and grace. "...more than any other, that makes my family different: we don't go to school." In the book, Tara's father, who has an extreme apocalyptic survivalist mentality, forces her and many of her siblings to work in their scrapyard while forbidding them from attending school. He utilizes his religious convictions to manipulate and dominate his family into living a different kind of lifestyle that is driven by religious superiority—paranoia, and a demand for devotion from the family. Tara leaves home at the age of seventeen, encouraged by a brother, to attend school and eventually secures a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge. Still, she longs to be reunited with her family, and relentlessly pursues their approval, although normalcy will never exist. In the end, I wasn't sure if she truly found the redemption she searched for. But you'll have to read and decide for yourself. Note: My "what I'm reading" posts are unsolicited Want to know what else I'm reading? The House At Sugar Beach

  • Who The Hell Goes to Liberia?

    "Who the hell goes to Liberia?" The insult flew across the ticket counter like a sharp object, and the added expletive twisted like a knife. The logic of the Pan-American clerk questioning a seventeen-year-old girl's desire to travel to a West African country recently embroiled in controversies might have been warranted. But from my perspective, his question was savage. He certainly didn’t know I was racing a casket back to my birthplace. I wondered what he knew about Liberia. How could he dismiss the existence of my childhood home so flippantly? Was it because of the bloody revolution? I I stood there frozen for a few seconds and pondered his question. He certainly didn't know I was racing a casket back to my birthplace. Thirty minutes earlier, Aunt Lizzy and I exited our taxi at JFK airport in New York City. Inside, we dodged passengers hustling with their luggage while we hurried to the Pan Am check-in counter. In line, just ahead of us, a couple argued with the clerk. The airline agent motioned them aside as they continued their rant. We approached the counter and handed him our tickets. Examining them, he said, "Sorry, the plane is full. The next scheduled flight to Liberia is with KLM." "What? That can't be," Aunt Lizzy said. Handing our tickets back to us, he pointed toward the KLM office. His directive stern. "Look, we are full. Go to the KLM counter and rebook with them." "Next" Aunt Lizzy sighed. She turned and walked away, but I wasn't willing to accept that we wouldn't get on our scheduled flight. We hadn't made it this far to be bumped off. Certainly, the airline agent had to be mistaken. "Excuse me, Sir. Aren't there any other flights heading to Liberia tonight?" I said. "Who the hell goes to Liberia? I already told you the next flight is with KLM." The rock cracked. Liquid swelled my eyes, and giant water droplets flowed down my cheeks. I had been ignoring the boulder-like sensation that crushed my chest the past few days when I learned of my sister's death, but suddenly it needed an escape. I didn’t want him to see me cry. Or did I? I couldn’t decide. I wanted to fall into someone’s arms. A stranger would do—if only he’d asked, “why are you going to Liberia?” But he didn’t. I tried to keep the tears at bay by swallowing, but it didn't help. The rock cracked. Liquid swelled my eyes, and giant water droplets flowed down my cheeks. Turning my wet face away from the clerk and with my head lowered, I walked over to my luggage and plopped down on the hardened blue case, feeling slightly grateful for the support it provided my weary body. Wiping my face with the back of my hand, I sat there and stewed. The clerk's ignorance awakened my intellect, and my mental defenses gave way to a torrid of facts. I wanted to tell him many people go to Liberia. President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited once and Jimmy Carter too. "And the Queen of England went to Liberia," I whispered. "If nobody goes to Liberia, how could the plane be full?" Aunt Lizzy put one arm around my shoulder and patted my hand with the other. "Don't worry. We'll make it." But her kind optimism brought little comfort. Frustration and fatigue set in. My heart broke a thousand times over. Knowing Pan-American was the only airline that flew non-stop to Monrovia, Liberia, switching flights would cost valuable time, but we had no other choice. I settled into the thought. We will be late for Bertie's funeral. ~ excerpt from a WIP memoir You may also like these WIP excerpt posts. The Dreamer I Hold Your Foot

  • Why writing is like Childbirth

    A long time ago, I bore three children. Natural childbirth, they called it. No fancy epidural to numb the process—the pain was real. I am not bragging. We were poor, and I was grateful for a hospital, but their torture-reducing options were limited. Not too long ago, I started writing a book—a memoir. Natural self induced insanity, I'd call it, with no fancy training manual. The discomfort has been equally real. Unlike childbirth, in writing, I'm grateful I can control the narrative. When the aches come, I stop them. Do a different task... go to bed. I decide what day, month, or year I will finish the manuscript, yet, if I don't push through the pain, I will never give birth to it. "unless it is written brilliantly... this probably won't work. I've joined a few local and online writing groups, and soon I'll be on my way to my first writer's conference. From one of my most recent critiques, which was anonymous, someone wrote, "Memoirs tend to be very much about you, and unless it is written brilliantly, you are famous, and/or the story is something extraordinary, this (referring to one of my entries) probably won't work." I'm not famous. My life isn't extraordinary. And I am not a published author, yet. But I have a story to tell. It matters not who reads it—it matters that it's written. If I wait for brilliance, I'll never write. And so I'll plug along. I've always known I'd write a book some day, but I never imagined how difficult it would be. I'll be honest. I'm struggling. It's been six months since I first put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard, and my first three chapter drafts are painfully ugly. I'll be honest. I'm struggling. Most days, my brain gets fatigued, and my confidence wanes. God only knows how long I'll be pregnant with this book. Yet, I'll admit, the stories that are conceiving deep inside of me fill me with awe, regardless of how terrible the writing is. Why am I writing? I have grandkids now, and one of my daughters is pregnant with our fourth. A part of their history is my story. If untold, how will they know it? What a tragedy that would be. While preserving some of my family's legacy, writing also allows me to open the glued pages of my past: a white child growing up in Africa, having black sisters, and a personal tragedy that altered my life plans. With every passing day, my anticipation grows. I imagine what it will be like once this book baby is finally birthed. I'd like to invite you to join me in my journey. Write your own story—to anchor and mold the next generations in your family. If this post has inspired you to write, or you're also struggling with the process, I'd love to hear from you.

  • I Hold Your Foot

    After leaving the US passport agency, our taxi pulled up to a forties-style bungalow in the 16th Street Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. The yellowish-colored house had once served as a residence for the Liberian Ambassador but now the official stateside Embassy for the Republic. I noticed the familiar coat of arms hanging on the outer concrete wall as we approached the entrance. I thought back to sixth grade when I created a replica of the seal for history class—a 'masterpiece' on a white poster board: An ocean with a ship under sail, the sun emerging from the sea, a green palm, and the plow and spade. At the top, it read: 'For the love of Liberty brought us here.' I saved it and even stuffed it into my suitcase when I came to America. I even stuffed it into my suitcase when I came to America. A lady wrapped in a tailored lappa suit opened the building door. Her brightly colored green and yellow ensemble glistened as the sunlight pierced an open window. In a deep-set Liberian English accent, she invited Aunt Lizzy and I in while she notified an agent of our presence. We waited in the lobby for an hour. "He can see you now," she said, as she escorted us down a dark hall and into a back office. The lady addressed the agent as "Your Honorable" when she introduced us. Aunt Lizzy sat facing the consulate in front of an oversized wooden desk, while I stood. High class officials in Liberia are called Honorables, and it would be dishonorable not to use the term when addressing one, so Aunt Lizzy took the cue and began her request with the same. She explained that she needed a short-term visitor visa stamped in her passport if we were going to catch our plane that night. I held my breath. Tapping his thumb on the edge of his chair, he gazed unseeing across the room. He mumbled something to himself while shuffling papers on the desk. Finally, he said: "Ma, I'm sorry for your loss, but I can't help you today. Go, come back tomorrow." “I hold your foot.”— a term used in the Liberian vernacular when there’s no more begging left in your bones. We didn't have tomorrow. Our flight from Washington to New York City was in two hours, and our flight to Liberia from New York was scheduled for nine o'clock that night. My mind raced. I had forgotten about the unspoken expectation. The ‘dash’—a customary gift, preferably monetary, would speed up the Honorable’s decision if something significant was to be offered. ‘Beg him,’ I thought. So I began a one-way sortie with the Honorable, spouting out words in Liberian English while making wild hand gestures as I pleaded for his help. "Honorable, I beg you. My auntie needs the visa today. We need to get to my sister's funeral. My ma and my pa are waiting for me." With the right amount of fluctuations in tone and pitch, I continued my theatrical pleas. But my courage soon waned. He wasn’t listening. I sighed, “Ah bah." I was desperate. Like a last-ditch effort in a final confession, I stabbed his conscience with four magical words: “I hold your foot.”— a term used in the Liberian vernacular when there’s no more begging left in your bones. He stared at me and burst into laughter. "Aye, yah. You're a Liberian girl, eh?" I nodded. "Yes, I was born there." "But you're white. White people don't speak Liberian English." I shrugged. I stabbed his conscience with four magical words: "I hold your foot." With a soft grin, he stretched his arm across the desk and reached for Aunt Lizzy's passport. "Okay. Okay. Go, come back in two hours, and your passport will be ready for travel." The corners of his mouth turned upward as he gazed at me softly. "Sorry, Missy. Don't worry. You'll make it to the funeral in time." The kindness gave me a moment's relief from my heart's agony. ~ an excerpt from a WIP You may also like these WIP journal posts The Dreamer Who The Hell Goes to Liberia

  • The Dreamer

    Atlanta, Ga. April, 1968 Atlanta was in an uproar. People were angry, hurt, and frustrated over the events surrounding The Dreamer's (Dr. Martin Luther King) death. Rumors of potential riots had white folks concerned about going out in public. Despite warnings from his peers, Daddy was determined to take his family to view the body of the fallen martyr, for he knew one day I would understand the significance. Although too young to understand the significance of my first memory, it stands clear in my mind after all these years. I saw a man in a long box with dark makeup plastered around his lower right jaw. Daddy said an evil man had shot him. I saw a man in a long box with dark makeup plastered around his lower right jaw. Daddy said an evil man had shot him. We stood outside Spelman Chapel in Atlanta with thousands of others, trying to reach the front door. The line began at the compound's entrance and wound around brick buildings and under cover of the blooming dogwoods. People moved forward at a snail’s pace. Unconcerned about where we were or why we were there, I thought about the ice cream shop we had passed earlier while we eased bumper-to-bumper along the road leading to the Atlanta University Center Consortium. My mouth watered, and I imagined the sweet cream on my tongue. “Strawberry, please,” I would say if given the option. That morning on Palm Sunday, 1968, we had attended Holy Temple Church, an all-black congregation, where Daddy had been invited to speak. Like us, many who waited in line wore church attire. Uniformly, the men in the crowd sported fedoras with dark suits while the women donned black dresses and long white coats. My sister, Bertie, and I were three and four. We looked like Irish twins with short blond hair—hers was curly, and mine was straight—and bright blue eyes. Our outfits matched: black and white checkered print jumpsuit dresses, white socks laced at the top, and shiny black shoes. Our young white family must have stood out like a sore thumb as we nestled in the crowd consisting primarily of black Americans, with only a speckling of other whites. When we entered the building, we waited our turn as people, five or six in clusters, shuffled forward. Reflective music echoed from the organ. I looked up at solemn faces as sniffles resounded through the building. When we reached the front, Daddy nudged Bertie and me forward, placing us at eye level with the casket. The lid was open, and we could see the top half of a man lying in the shiny wooden box. His skin and clothes were dark, and he rested on a bed of fluffy white fabric as if asleep. I remember being sandwiched between adults touching the glass above his face. Some kissed it. Others waited to get a glimpse of the body, so Daddy pushed us toward the foot of the coffin. Daddy dropped my fingers that had been safe in his large hands. I looked up. He pulled out a white handkerchief from his front pocket and wiped his eyes. He grabbed his camera from around his neck and snapped a few pictures. People pressed in harder. I was anxious and hot, and I wanted ice cream. “Daddy, Daddy,” I whined. Satisfied with his picture-taking, Daddy grabbed my hand again, and Mommy took Bertie's. "Let's go," he said as we squished through the doorway, walked past the people still in line, and out the gate where our car was parked. Walking toward the car, I asked, "Daddy, can we get ice cream?" My sister, Bertie, didn’t chime in. She had been crying, obviously more concerned about her surroundings than me. Her compassionate nature shone even at the age of four. “Please, can we get ice cream?” I continued. Mommy nudged Daddy and insisted I had been too good not to fulfill my request. “Georgie, what flavor do you want?” “Strawberry, please.” Bertie chose chocolate. While we enjoyed our ice cream, Daddy and Mommy continued discussing the man in the casket while we drove to my Uncle Bill and Aunt Louise’s house. ~ an excerpt from a WIP You may also like these WIP excerpt posts Who The Hell Goes to Liberia I Hold Your Foot The Girl Who Lived in our Backyard

bottom of page