Monthly Archives: February 2013

An Interview with Shanaya Fastje

Today, we continue our discussion with Shanaya Fastje, author of Bully in the Mirror: Making Hate Stop When You Don’t Think You Can.”

We’ve already had quite the discussion so far. If you want to go back and read Part 1 of the transcript, you can do that now. You can also stream the entire interview with the player at the bottom of this post, or you can download the podcast to listen to whenever you’d like.

Without further ado, let’s continue the interview.

Chase: “I think part of the problem is the television programs that kids are consuming these days. When I was a kid, Family Channel was pretty tame. They showed Disney cartoons and family oriented films.

Nowadays, they are showing teenage sitcoms all the time. I’ve watched some of them recently and it’s quite horrible the way the characters treat each other. They name call, they backstab, there’s disrespect, they put each other down, there’s conniving and mischief, and all this other stuff. I just wonder, if that is the role model they are seeing and that is the kind of programming they are consuming, it’s got to have some kind of effect on them.”

Shanaya: “Kids revolve around pop culture and whatever they are looking at, they are going to transpose into their own lives. I work out of Los Angeles, California. I’m working with my production company to produce a few series and films right now. I am trying to change that part of the industry.

It’s very true. Kids are learning to become more negative and more mischievous by watching all these TV shows. It should change and it’s able to change. But it’s getting larger and larger and every minute we wait, it’s going to get more difficult. It’s very important to act now. That is what I am currently working on every day.

It didn’t necessarily used to be this way. Everybody knows about bullying. It has a lot to do with, ‘Okay, this is in the media now, let’s put this into a TV show.’ And they kind of use this type of character because it’s funny, but it is not funny. It’s hurtful.”

Chase: You have some advice in your book about how we can help change things. On page 119, you talk about an anti-bullying pledge. We actually have one of those in our school board up here. The kids all took it at the start of the year.

But if you don’t have one at your school, you give some advice about how you can go about writing one and how you can format it. You also talk about setting up anti-bulling teams.”

Shanaya: “I also have an exercise in the book about talking to yourself in a mirror and setting goals for yourself. When you look in a mirror and set a goal for yourself, you subconsciously soak up what you are saying to the mirror and what you are saying to yourself, you are basically going to do it without thinking about it.

Anti-bullying teams are great because, like I said, when one person does something, another person will follow in their footsteps. Eventually when a few kids get together, it can be a team. They can then work together on finding new ways to stop bullying in their school. We can start with one school at a time because it does take time. It’s one person at a time, one step at a time, one school at a time.

When it works in a handful of schools, it will slowly disseminate to other schools. It is basically all about starting. Someone needs to begin. Someone needs to start the change. I want to be a part of that.

I’m starting that change. And then there has to be a middle where you work on that change and continue to change. At the end, when there has been success and there are fewer bullies in one school than there were a month previously, that’s a positive change.

People sometimes want to rush into things, but you can’t really rush. It’s a cautious, one step at a time ordeal.

Chase: “Wow, you are an inspiration. You are doing so many things, you’ve written quite a few books, you have film and television series in the works, and you even have speaking engagements. So hopefully you are inspiring and educating the youth. That is really cool to see.”

Shanaya: “Thank you so much. Pretty much every single day I get phone calls, text messages, and emails from kids saying they need my help. They tell me that they are suffering from bullying. They want advice or they want to tell me their stories. Some are suicidal. It’s definitely a job all on its own. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it but I really love doing it. It does not bother me that I get all these phone calls.

I want kids to come to me because I want them to feel that they are not alone. I want them to know that I am here and that somebody is there. I’ve gotten calls from kids that I’d visited their schools two years previous and they’ve kept my card every since.

There is on particular story. I think it was about a year and a half ago. I went to a elementary / middle school to give a presentation. The counselor came up to me and said that there was a boy that was being bullied very severely. She wanted to see if I could speak with him for a few minutes, give him some inspirational words, and just help him a bit.

I met him after my presentation. We sat in the auditorium and I ended up spending over an hour with this young boy. He was only nine years old and he’d already tried committing suicide twice. He had been to a rehabilitation centre about four times. He was bullied because he as a very, very good student. He’s an “A” student. He has bright, bright red hair and would get made fun of for that. He was a little bit overweight and he felt so in pain. He was only nine years old but felt so much pain that he felt he had to commit suicide.

I spent over an hour with him, talking to him, helping him work through his problems, helping him to realize I was there to help him. At the end of the session I had with him. I gave him my business card with my email and phone number on it. I told him that if he needed any more help, he could get a hold of me. It didn’t matter what day or what time it was, I’d be there. He said, “Okay.”

I thought of him for days after that. I decided to sign a book and to design a composition book for him. A few years ago, I used to make jewelry and make composition books for charity. I wrote him a letter and went back to the school the next week and asked the counselor if I could see him again. We talked in the hall and I gave him the package.

At the end of class, the counselor came up to me and she gave me a letter that he had written for me. She said that he had been such a happier kid since I’d spoken to him. He was focusing more in school in his classes. He was smiling, he was laughing again, and he was trying to make friends again.

I went home and opened the letter and read it. He basically wanted to thank me for helping him. He said he didn’t think about killing himself anymore because I helped him. I kept that letter.

I read every single letter that is sent to me. I have thousands and thousands and his letter is very, very special to me.

Chase: “I think the power of talk is a very important and powerful thing. Kids sometimes don’t have anyone they can talk to for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t have someone they can confide in or they don’t know how to bring up the topic. I just want my students to know that, as a teacher, and I’m sure most teachers are like this too, you can come to teachers with your problems, and we will be here to listen.

It’s also encouraging to know that there are people like you for them to talk to as well. Talking through a problem is sometimes one of the best ways to get around it and to solve it.”

Shanaya: “I believe that victims and kids can be so scared to talk because they don’t know who to trust. Some teachers and parents don’t know what to do. I just hope that kids realize that they are not alone. If you see that anybody is having trouble or if you see someone is sad, or depressed, or a little bit mad, it’s important to get down to their level. Get eye level with them.

I’ve given workshops to parents and teachers about how to address little kids and middle schoolers. It is intimidating for them to see an adult towering over them. They are scared, they are being bullied, they don’t know who to trust. But when somebody gets down to their eye level, they feel more of a connection and they feel safer.

That’s also why I have been able to have such success with kids. I am a kid. I know what kids go through. I’ve had friends on the verge of suicide and I’ve helped them. So, I’ve had experience with kids. I think kids feel a connection with me because they know I understand them. I think a lot of people are able to understand them.

For kids to feel safe, they need to have a connection with someone.

Chase: “I like how you talk about teachers in your book as well. Some people your age wouldn’t have anything good to say about teachers. They are quick to put down their teachers and complain. But you have some respect and praise and admiration for teachers in this book and it was quite refreshing to see.”

Shanaya: “I think that teachers are fantastic! They are great! Teachers are doing their job!

I have a lot of respect for teachers and human teaching and human development. I believe that everybody has something to learn from anyone they come across. Whether it’s from a mistake, to not act a certain way, or to learn something positive, to learn a new thing. I think teachers are very important in doing that. They are teaching kids every single day and it’s constant.

I want to let kids know that teachers aren’t there to hurt anybody, they aren’t there to make you feel small, they are there to help you. Hopefully kids will realize that.

Same with parents. Parents just sometimes don’t know what to do. It’s not necessarily that parents don’t care, sometimes they just don’t know what to do. It’s all about education..

So once kids realize that it’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know what to do. Once they realize that and start to speak up, we have a better chance of solving the problem.”

Chase; “We are speaking with Shanaya Fastje, author of ‘Bully in the Mirror: Making Hate Stop When You Don’t Think You Can.’ Can you tell people how they can find out more about you and how they can get your books?”

Shanaya: “I have a website – shanyafastje.com. You can go to Barnes & Noble or Amazon to get the book. You can contact me directly from my website. There is a contact form where I receive emails directly and I am able to respond. I love hearing from people. My book is available all around the world.”

Chase: “Thank you so much for talking with me today. You are an amazing person and very inspiring with all of the things you are doing from the writing to the production aspect to the speaking engagements. It’s nice to see that you are not just sitting on your couch watching TV. You are actively out there creating things. It is so easy, in this day and age, with the computer technology we have to get out an do something creative.”

Shanaya: “It’s very simple. Kids just need to find something that they are passionate about. Everybody loves to do something and everybody is good at something. Kids just need to find what thy love doing. Also, on top of everything else I am doing, I’m working on music. I put out two singles on iTunes and I’m going to film a new video. I’m working on an album and I have my own label. I’m working on music, film, television, and writing. They are all passions of mine and I’m honored to be given the opportunity to work on all of them.

Chase: “Well, I wish you nothing but success and good luck in all your endeavors.”

Shanaya: “Thank you, that is exactly what I hope as well.”

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Bully in the Mirror (Straight Talk about a Major Problem)

Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March. I have a special guest on the program right now, author of “Bully in the Mirror: Making Hate Stop When You Don’t Think You Can,” Shanaya Fastje.

You can read the transcript of the interview, stream in with the player below, or download it to listen to later.

So, Shanaya, I read your book cover to cover. I know there are some people out there who think bullying is completely natural and that it is just part of childhood.”

Shanaya: “There is nothing natural about it. Most people say, ‘Bullying is natural, it happens all the time, everybody goes through it.’ But it is not in any way, shape, or for, normal. It becomes not normal when kids feel mental pain with or without physical pain. Parents have to see what they believed was normal is no longer normal.

It’s about a lack of education on the subject. People need to educate themselves about the realities of bullying and living in this society as a kid or a teenager. It causes pain, and anything that causes pain is not normal.”

Chase: “This book is incredible and based on the conversation we’ve had up to this point, I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that you are a teenager.”

Shanaya: “I get that often. I’m only thirteen. I just graduated high school last year. People don’t really comprehend that I’m actually thirteen, but I’ve definitely gotten used to it.”

Chase: “It’s pretty impressive and inspirational what you have already been able to do. And ‘Bully in the Mirror’ isn’t even your first book.”

Shanaya: “This is my fourth book. I’m currently working on my fifth book which is going to be my first fiction. It’s a mystery / suspense novel. I am currently negotiating piloting out my fifth book for film. I’m also negotiating my fourth book for film because I just opened up my own production company. I have a license and I’m working on producing different projects. I would love to produce any of my books into some kind of film, television, or series.”

Chase: “Wow, that is incredible. Just to make a personal connection here, on page 85 of your book you mention reading another book, ‘Psycho-cybernetics.’ I remember reading that book at your age too.”

Shanaya: “How interesting.”

Chase: “The title of that book alone would scare most people off, but it was a good read. And so is your book, “Bully in the Mirror.”

I started a Facebook page this year because I wanted to open up the lines of communication between school and home. I thought it would be a good tool to stay in touch with students and parents, but just recently, I was cyber-bullied on it.”

Shanaya: “Bullying itself has become a social epidemic. It used to be that kids would fight physically and there’d be some name calling. Now, it’s gotten to the point that cyber-bullying is now in existence. Kids are now bullying each other using social media – Facebook, Twitter, email, and texting.

It’s okay for kids to go on Facebook and Twitter, but sometimes it becomes an obsession. It becomes an addiction. This addiction goes a step further and these kids sometimes think they are superior because they can always disguise themselves using anonymous names. It becomes very dangerous.

It is now getting to a point where kids are, more and more, committing suicide because they are being cyber-bullied. Sometimes it can be by their own friends. Next to physical bullying, cyber-bullying is one of the more dangerous forms of bullying.”

Chase: “When I got cyber-bullied last week, I was able to shake it off for the most part. But I look at what some of the kids are doing online, I see that this is a regular way that kids are talking to each other on these platforms. They are on Facebook putting down people. If I was a kid living in this day and age, and I had to go through that on a daily basis, I don’t know how I’d handle it.”

Shanaya: “Verbal harassment over the Internet can cause the same exact damage as any other form of bullying. It can even lead to suicide. Any form of bullying can lead to suicide and any form of bullying can lead to depression. And it goes a step further. Kids don’t’ keep it in the boundaries. They always go a step further and this step further is what’s dangerous.

Kids do have a hard time handling it. I’ve been bullied but I don’t like comparing my bullying stories to other kids because it hasn’t necessarily been severe. I’ve learned to grow self-confidence and self-esteem from a very young age. I’ve been cyber-bullied and it’s very ridiculous the way kids now talk to each other. It’s like there are no morals, respect, or dignity. I want to help bring some of those morals back into kids’ lives.”

Chase: “I wanted to use it as a teachable moment as well. I want kids to know that it is not okay to talk like this online, and that you should watch carefully what you say, and don’t press send if you think it is going to hurt, belittle, or demean somebody. But when I brought this to my principal, his first response was to shut it down, to close the Facebook page. So I had to shut down the site. Part of the problem, he said, is that this is the culture of Facebook. This is what they do and this is how kids are talking on Facebook and that is not something we are going to change.”

Shanaya: “It’s become like a lifestyle. But bullies are not born bullies. It’s a learned behaviour. Since bullies have learned to act ugly to others, they can also learn to change. The world is constantly changing and I believe there is always room for change. There is always room for better. And it starts with one person.

When somebody sees one person doing something good. Let’s say someone is being cyber-bullied on Facebook. If one person comments, ‘That’s not right’ or “Stop’ or “I’m going to report you,’ then another person is going to step in, and then another. It’s a chain reaction. It’s the same with physical and verbal bullying as well. People can’t give up too easily because quitting means stopping the chain reaction and we can’t really end that. It’s important for the sake of this generation of kids and their safety.”

Chase; “We have this program in our school called “Be an Upstander.” It basically means that you shouldn’t stand by and watch something happen when you can do something about it. Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander and do something about it.”

Shanaya: “Of course, one of the main keys to reduce bullying is the bystander. Some people might be afraid to tell an adult or they might feel threatened by the bully. But it is the bystanders’ job to go and get help and to tell.

Victims have true power but they sometimes mistake it that they don’t have any power and the bully has all the power over them. In reality, the bully is pretending to use the victim’s power as their own to trick the victim into thinking that they are powerless. Bullies are actually weak-minded. Since they are so weak, they can learn to build the strength of their own mind just like victims can.

Everybody needs to work hand-in-hand in the situation. It’s not just the victims that need to work on their self-esteem and self-confidence. I think parents have to have a bog part in making this happen. Parents need to talk to their children and help them get through whatever issue is going on, no matter what time they get home from work. The parents are the role models and if the kids see that their parents are willing to help, they will know that they’ll feel that they are not really alone because that’s what victims often feel. They feel alone and that’s why they are so scared to go an tell if they are being bullied or hurt.”

Chase: “You have some good advice in this book. On page 84, you write about how we can sometimes be a little too hard on ourselves and then you write, ‘If you can think it, you have the power to think it differently. Every negative thought can become a positive one. If you think it, you can do it.” Very wise words there.

Shanaya: “Thank you. I believe that every problem has a solution. I like looking at things not as problems but as problems that need solutions. Instead of focusing on the negative, I like to focus on the positive and how I can fix this. Nothing is going to change and nothing is going to get fixed if you keep dwelling on a problem and keep dwelling on negativity. There is always a way to switch it around.

People just need to take a moment, take a breather, and to think the right way. Once people learn to think in a more positive way, then we’ll learn how to act in a more positive way.”

We’ll continue this interview tomorrow. If you can’t wait that long, listen to the entire interview right now with the player below, or download it to listen to at your leisure.

See you tomorrow. Thanks for tuning in!

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Failure is Often the First Step in the Learning Process

Tony Hawk is the greatest skateboarder the world has ever seen. But he didn’t get there without some pain, hard work, and lots of effort.

He recently posted this on Facebook and I think it serves as food for thought.

In everything we do, there is a learning curve.

Tony Hawk didn’t fail with this painfully landed trick. It was merely his first attempt in learning it.

Remember that the next time you don’t succeed at something in your first attempt.

You should keep trying until you do.

Thomas Edison had a lot of failures leading up to his invention of the light bulb. He didn’t let himself get discouraged “because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

There’s some motivation for you today as you go ahead with trying to learning something new.

Do you have a story of failure that lead to success? 

Please share it below in the comment section.

Know Your History 36 – The First Rap Record

Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m your host Chase March and today I want to look at the first rap song ever.

This is the transcript of the radio show. You can download the podcast or stream it with the player below. And if you like what you hear, subscribe to the podcast or check the Mixcloud feed for weekly episodes.

A lot of you are probably nodding your head right now, listening to the track in the background and saying, “Yep, that’s it. ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by The Sugarhill Gang.”

But you’d be wrong. That wasn’t the first rap song. It was the first one that many people heard. It was the first one to achieve commercial success. But it was by no means the first rap song.

Finding the first rap song can be a bit tricky though simply due to the definition of what is and what isn’t rap. I don’t like to think about rap music outside of the culture of hip-hop. And if you are a fan of this show, you already know that hip-hop started to solidify as a culture in the early 1970s. It didn’t start out as rap music either. It started with the deejay. Rappers weren’t even around at the start of the culture. That’s something that is often forgotten in this day and age where it seems like rap music has just always been around. Maybe it has been.

The first commercially recorded rap songs started to emerge in 1979, fairly recently if you think about it. But there are songs that predate this recording that sound rather rap-like.

In fact, there is even an athlete who is often credited as being the first rapper. He didn’t record any songs but we have quite a few audio tracks of him saying rhymes that could easily fit to a beat. He probably could have been a rapper instead of a boxer.

I’m talking about Muhammad Ali. Here is one of his famous speeches.

Was that rap? I don’t know. We can definitely see comparisons of what we know about rap music with what Muhammad Ali did in that brief rhyme. He tells a story. It rhymes. It has some rhythm to it. He has a larger than life image behind the words. They evoke a feeling. But isn’t that what poetry does.

Muhammad Ali was an athlete. He liked his wordplay as much as his fancy footwork and punch combinations in the ring. He was a poet, but I don’t think we can call him a rapper.

I was watching a documentary recently and there was a quote in it that said, “You can’t become what you do not see.” In terms of hip-hop, seeing a black man being confident, using words creatively, and excelling in his sport probably did have an impact on the first rappers that we would probably agree upon.

But right now, I want to go further back in time. Muhammad Ali was in his boxing prime in the 1960s. I’d like to go back another ten years and look at this record. It’s called “Big John” and it’s by Jimmy Dean.

This is Chase March and we are exploring the roots of rap music today in this edition of Know Your History. Perhaps this is the first rap song.

What do you think? Is “Big John” by Jimmy Dean the first rap song?

It has some elements of modern rap music in it. And unlike the Muhammad Ali clip I played earlier, this one is set to music. It wasn’t merely a poem or a recited rhyme. The music and the vocals work together. They are intertwined. They are one.

In his book, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop, Adam Bradley writes, “rap is not speech exactly, nor is it precisely song, and yet it employs elements of both.”

An exact definition of rap music is pretty hard to come by. It is not simply talking over a backing musical track. Rappers can use cadences, rhymes, and all sorts of poetic devices in their music. The key word here is music. Big John is music. Is it hip-hop? I don’t think so.

I think we need to look at the birthplace of hip-hop. It was born in New York in the 1970s. Some people peg the official birthday as August 11, 1973. On that historic day, DJ Kool Herc threw his first party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. Hip-hop still didn’t have a name at this point but I definitely agree that this was the start of the rich culture we all love and enjoy today.

Still though, some of the elements of hip-hop were around well before this. Five years earlier, a group was just coming together in Harlem. They dropped their debut album in 1970, nine years before the first commercially recorded rap song. Let’s play a song from that album right now. This is “New York, New York” by The Last Poets. Maybe this is the first rap song.

Woah, that was heavy. That record was socially conscious. It was politically charged. In that way, it was ahead of it’s time. It foreshadowed what was to come content wise within hip-hop much later.

The Last Poets are definitely pioneers in what would become rap music. We just heard “New York, New York” and we can probably draw comparisons, pick out parts of that recording that were rap-like. That being said, I don’t consider that to be the first rap song.

We are getting closer to it though. I promise.

Let’s jump back in time 50 years . This track is called “Kinesiska Muren” and it is by Evert Taube. Maybe this is this first rap song?

That record came out in 1958. It is about the construction of the Great Wall of China. According to online sources, it is a poem. However, it sounds quite rap-like. It is set to a beat, the rhymes are spoken in a cadence and they are on time. That being said, it is not a rap song.

I know, I know. I keep teasing you, telling you that I am going to play the first rap song and I keep playing stuff that quite simply falls a little short. The songs and poems I’ve been playing have a lot in common with rap music, but they are not rap.

So what is the defining characteristic of rap? What have all these tracks been missing?

Adam Bradley writes, “Rhyme is the music MCs make with their mouths . . . Everyone knows rhyme when they hear it, but few stop to examine it. Rhyme is the concordance of sound. It works by establishing a habit of expectations in listeners’ minds, conditioning them to identify patterns of sound, to connect words the mind instinctively recognizes as related yet distinct. All rhyme relies on the innate human impulse to recognize patterns and to anticipate what will follow. A skillfully rendered rhyme strikes a balance between expectation and novelty.”

I love Adam Bradley’s book. It shows how artistic rap music is. It explores the poetics of it. It looks closely at the music. That’s what I try to do every day. That’s why I work at producing documentary hip-hop radio each and every single month here on the program.

That was King Tim III with The Fatback Band. The song is called “Personality Jock” and it’s often considered to be the first rap recording. It is a rap song as much as it is a funk song. It has an MC saying rhymes with a cadence. The rhymes are on time. It is hip-hop. It came out in 1979 a few months prior to Rapper’s Delight.

But we can actually go back another forty years to find the first true rap song. This track originally came out in 1937. It’s called “The Preacher and the Bear” and it’s by The Golden Gate Quartet. So here it is, quite possibly the very first rap song ever.

You can see how similar the cadences are and where the rhymes are falling when you compare this song with Rapper’s Delight. Check out the mash-up Darrin Jackson did to hear it quite clearly.

There you have it, the first rap song as recorded in 1937. We heard the 1941 re-issue of it and then the 2005 mash-up of it.

That is an incredible record by The Golden Gate Quartet called “The Preacher and The Bear.” Apparently it was a folk song that people used to sing. These creative musicians did it in a rap style in 1937. My goodness!

This Chase March, thanks for tuning in to Know Your History!

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

To Flip or Not to Flip (Is a Flipped Classroom the Way to Go?)

What exactly is a “Flipped Classroom?” 

Why do I keep coming across this term from different blogs and articles I am reading?

Is this something I should try to do?

These are all questions I have been asking myself over the past few weeks as I have been coming across the term “flipped classroom” more and more.

At first, I just dismissed the idea. I didn’t see how it could possibly work in an elementary school. But after some further research, I could see this concept working in a Grade 8 classroom.

Here’s a handy infographic I found on Larry Ferlazzo’s site. I think it’s worth sharing and considering.

This infographic makes some great points and has almost convinced me to try flipping my class. Of course, instrumental music is a unique subject area where this concept may not work. But as I think about this, I could make videos specific to each instrument. I could offer practice tips or other useful information.

It’s something to think about anyway.

Let’s hear from you

Have you flipped your classroom?

Know anyone that has?

Have any thoughts about it?

Please leave a comment below and add to the discussion

Look Again (Great Reads)

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

The premise of this novel was so scary that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to read it.

It starts when a single mother receives a missing child flyer in the mail. The picture on the flyer looks exactly like her adopted son, Will. The reporter in her needs to start digging and uncover the truth. The mother in her wants what’s best for her son. But she just wants to keep her family together.

I was captivated by this book every step of the way. It’s a great read, well-paced, and full of suspense.

I borrowed the audio book version of this novel from the public library. I was pleasantly surprised to hear an interview with the author at the end of the story. I like when this kind of stuff is included in audio books. It’s nice to be able to hear the author’s real voice, to get an insight into the writing process, and to enhance the overall experience of a great read.

Dear Zoe by Philip Beard

Far removed from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a smaller tragedy occurred. A family lost a three year old daughter in a senseless accident. They have a really hard time coping with their loss, especially when it seems that everyone else is focusing on a different loss.

To help her cope, fifteen year old Tess writes a letter to her deceased sister. The entire story is told through this one-sided correspondence.

It’s a touching narrative and we learn a lot about Tess and her sisters through this letter. She learns a lot through the process as well. It just goes to show the power of writing.

There are a few scenes in here that are so vivid and real. A couple of them even brought a tear to me eye. I don’t want to spoil the story for you here so I won’t get into the details. Suffice it to say, this was a great read.

More Great Reads

Once again, I am keeping track of everything I read over the course of the year.

My 2013 Reading List

Hip Hop is in the Building (Networking Event)

This is where I will be tonight.

It’s more than a rap concert on a Friday night. It is a networking event designed to bring together different members of the hip-hop community in the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada area.

It will be a great opportunity to meet artists, deejays, radio personalities, journalists, promoters, photographers, and many other people working in the hip-hop field.

This show is put on by Beat Binjaz. Follow them on Facebook because they are doing a great job of bringing top level artists to Hamilton.

If you come, make sure you bring some business cards so you can make some connections and earn some prizes.

And don’t forget to find me and say, “Hi!”

I’ll be wearing a press pass so you’ll be able to spot me easily.

See you there!

Valentine’s Day is a Strange Beast

I got over a 1,000 hits on my blog today.

Most of which for were for a poem I wrote and posted as a Valentine’s Day surprise for my girlfriend two years ago.

I wonder if I inspired any other love poems today?

That would be a good thing if I did.

I like being able to express myself and I think I did a pretty good job with that poem. Back then, we had been together for a few months and everything was fresh and exciting.  I was still determined to take it slow since I had been hurt a few times before. I really didn’t want to get hurt again. I think I captured that well in that piece.

I took our relationship for what it was, or more aptly, what I thought it was. Unfortunately, she and I didn’t seem to ever get on the same wavelength.

Maybe things just weren’t meant to be between us. Maybe I screwed everything up by not committing to her more fully. I never cheated on her but I did keep certain parts of my life separate and boxed away. And that wasn’t fair. I know that now.

I decided to keep all of this off of my blog, partly because she asked me to, but I know she still reads it from time to time, and this silence isn’t conveying what I would like to convey to her.

I want her to know that I still think of her, that I want nothing but the best for her, and that the best for her probably never was me. For that I apologize.

We had some good times and when I recall them I smile. She opened my eyes to things I’d never seen before and I am a better person because of her influence.

Some times I play those mixtapes I made just for her and I can hear her in and between the songs.

Valentine’s Day is a Strange Beast. 

When you are alone and hurt, everything seems to be amplified and the sorrow is hard to avoid. When you are in a relationship, the pressure to live up to a perfect romantic ideal can be worrisome.

Sometimes, everything can just be perfect, when two people are truly on the same page. If that happens more than once and more often than not, hold on to it, write a poem, make a mixtape, take some photos, and look back and remember those times and do your best to never let that flame get extinguished.

A Good Story (Happens Outside of Fiction Too, Right?)

I once had this fleeting connection with someone through a window while I was at working at a fast food restaurant.

I always hoped fate would find a way for us to meet again at some other time, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

This short film reminds me of that encounter so much.

It’s really cute and simple but strangely compelling.

This is what I need.

A good story.

A story that I can tell my grand kids.

A story about how I met the love of my life.

Please tell me that this sort of thing happens outside of beautifully told fiction.

Please.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!