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07 December 2016 @ 11:56 am
Last night, Nee took me to see Rancho Viejo, which was opening at Playwrights Horizons. The play did not feel as though it were 3 hours long. I struggle to describe it even now, but I can tell you the experience was memorable. Nee and I were partnered with her co-star from "A Life", Marinda, and Marinda's beau (with whom I would discover I shared an eerily similar destiny). The playwright for the play both Nee and Marinda had starred in was a few rows ahead of us, on an edge-seat. The row we occupied seemed to have been reserved specifically for the cast of that play I'd twice seen and which had closed on Sunday.

Before the play, Nee had scooped me up at a nearby Starbucks and we'd proceeded to the venue where someone official commandeered us for several photos before the Opening Night backdrop. After the play, Nee flitted through the crowds both upstairs and in the downstairs lobby, flashing what a pensioner last Sunday had, with no small amount of admiration, told me was her mega-watt smile, and talking about the play we'd just seen and the play she'd just finished starring in. I met several actors who I would not be surprised to wind up collaborating with at some point in the future.

Across the street was a private party held for the show and after we divested ourselves of our bags and Ms. Mega-watt Smile had already been accosted by several admirers, we sought out a table of familiars, landing finally at one where sat a few of her castmates as well as the playwright.

The evening, keyed to a glorious pitch by animated conversation (me and Adam Bock about writing novels and writing plays, me and my similarly situated partner admiring the tableau we were witnessing, Adam and his cast members rejoicing over their write-up in the New York Times), seems even more dream-like when put up next to the night before, which saw me, over sushi and carafes of hot green tea, having what could potentially be one of the most important conversations of my life in a scene straight out of an episode of House of Cards.

On the train ride in, I'd worked on a piece I somehow had managed to pitch successfully to a magazine I've wanted to be in for a number of years now. A number of years.

Today, if I can get my phone working, I'll be meeting up with an old college friend now staffed at The New Yorker, and on Friday, I may very well be in the audience of the cinema while Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monaé, and Octavia Spencer from the movie Hidden Figures charm us to death from the stage.

"Blessed" doesn't even come close to describing it.
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Current Location: Fulton & Nassau
Current Music: Breaking Benjamin - Fade Away
Among the most surreal feelings I've experienced recently has been the commendation of strangers on work that I've produced.

Nearly a month ago, my short story "Screamers" appeared in Omenana Magazine. My story shoots off a discussion thread at Short Story Squee & Snark. Bella Naija called the story amazing. People are tweeting about the story. The first seven words of the review at Quick Sip Reviews are "Well fuck. This is an incredible story...".

And I still catch myself marveling at the fact that the Oxford University Press let me wax on about Luke Cage and Black Panther. Upon its publication, friends both reached out to congratulate in addition to spreading the word about the piece. After having been surrounded by well-wishes and words of congratulations for so long in life, I am a bit surprised at how surprised I am right now. I write to be read, of course, but, at this point, it is startling still when I get notifications that people have read and liked my essays. It's almost more shocking than people hiring me to write things. Almost.

The same goes for finding 5-star reviews on iTunes for a podcast I and one of my closest friends from Tisch felt we had to put together. Again, friends spreading the word and us getting likes and well-wishes from people I don't know fills my heart to bursting.

As does the fact that tonight I will be seeing a very close friend who has spent the past few months reading a novel I wrote back in 2015 and whose every word of encouragement has led to near-swooning. In part because who she is and in part because she is an artistic collaborator and someone with whom I have worked and plan on continuing to work.

This morning, I finally put together a Facebook group for a thing I'd been excited to engage in all year. A book club wherein we engage with literature by writers from former colonies. The Commonwealth, Francophone West Africa, the Caribbean, etc. A book a month, beginning in the subcontinent and winding our way westward to the home of the Native Americans.

When I'd first floated the idea (which had started very much as a personal project), the response was overwhelming. Like the Les Miserables project and "Infinite Summer" after that, organization captures the impulse and a reading group is born.

Add to that the recent good news re freelance work and the transition I'm making to another professional realm, and I find myself bathed in that same beneficent glow that had swallowed me whole back in February when, over the course of 4 days, I signed a book deal, met a girl, passed the bar exam, and was gifted a new album by Beyoncé.

Not only that, but earlier today, a friend and former colleague who now works as a managing editor at Marvel gifted me with this haul.

@kdotwoody with the uhMAZING Marvel hookup! (There"s more but I couldn"t actually fit it all in one "gram.) #Excelsior
Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: TRUSTcompany - Finally
30 November 2016 @ 04:59 pm
-- Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency - David Remnick, The New Yorker, Nov. 28, 2016

"Perhaps the more acute personal sadness for White House staffers was the vision of Obama and Trump sitting side by side in the Oval Office. A President who fought with dignity to rescue the country from economic catastrophe and to press for progressive change—from marriage equality to the alleviation of climate change—was putting on a mask of generous equanimity for a visitor whom he had every good reason to despise, an ethically challenged real-estate brander who had launched his political career by promoting “birtherism,” and then ran a sexist and bigoted campaign to galvanize his base. In the Oval Office, the President was quick to comfort the young members of his staff, but he was, an aide told me, even more concerned about the wounding effect the election would have on the categories of Americans who had been routinely insulted and humiliated by the President-elect. At a social occasion earlier this year, someone asked Michelle Obama how it was possible for her husband to maintain his equipoise amid so much hatred. “You have no idea how bad it is,” she said. His practiced calm is beyond reckoning."

-- Barney Frank Looks For the Bright Side of Trump's Win - Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, Nov. 23, 2016

"In particular, Frank believes that Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign helped Trump’s portrayal of himself as a populist succeed in the fall. “Sanders wounded her badly,” Frank said, referring to Hillary Clinton. “His differing with her on the issues was entirely reasonable, but he’s the one who sold the argument that she was corrupt and bought by Wall Street. He had one ad which I called McCarthyite—where he essentially said Goldman Sachs got off so easy because they paid Clinton for speeches. Sanders helped Trump become the guy who says we are tired of rich guys getting away with everything. Sanders helped persuade people that she is on the wrong side of that issue.” Then, too, of course, there were the e-mails and the last-minute intervention of James Comey, the F.B.I. director. “If she hadn’t been using that e-mail system, she would have won, and Comey exacerbated the problem,” Frank said."

-- Is this how democracy ends? - David Runciman, London Review of Books, Dec. 1, 2016

"On election night, almost as soon as it was clear that the unthinkable had become a cold reality, Paul Krugman asked in the New York Times whether the US was now a failed state. Political scientists who normally study American democracy in splendid isolation are starting to turn their attention to Africa and Latin America. They want to know what happens when authoritarians win elections and democracy morphs into something else. The demagogue who promised to kill terrorists along with their families is moving his own family into the presidential palace. Even before he has taken up occupation his children are being seeded into positions of power. There he is on television, shiny and golden, his wife beside him and three of his children lined up behind, ready to take up what daddy has to offer. Here he is back on Twitter, unshackled by victory, rounding on his opponents in the free press. His ten-year-old son is still too young to join in, but he was by his father’s side on election night, looking hardly less bemused than the rest of us, as Trump delivered his notably conciliatory victory speech. Words of conciliation followed by the ruthless personal appropriation of the machinery of government, children in tow. Isn’t this how democracy ends?"

-- Is this the end of the UK? - David Runciman, London Review of Books, May 27, 2010

"Some Tory politicians have flirted with English nationalism over the past few years, including David Davis, who but for a duff speech at the 2005 Tory Conference might just have become prime minister (instead, he’s been frozen out of the coalition government in favour of Iain Duncan Smith, an ominous sign that the new administration prefers wholly bogus right-wing liberal conservatism to the real thing). In the end, Davis decided the English had no real appetite for nationalist politics. But the Conservative Party may need to find one. Indeed, it is hard to see how the Conservatives are going to find anything else to hold them together if/when things start to go wrong. There is a sporting analogy that is often helpful in politics, particularly at the dawn of a brave new era. Whenever the England cricket team is making a promising start, Geoffrey Boycott likes to snarl: ‘Imagine two more wickets down, bang, bang. Doesn’t look so pretty now, does it?’ The fresh-faced opening pair of Cameron and Clegg have made a nice start in the crisp May sunshine, but the innings has barely begun. It will be more than two wickets down before long. How will things look then? The brutal political and economic realities of the next five to ten years (and who knows, maybe well beyond that) mean that all the parties are going to need to discover ways to deflect the public’s grievances. What better option have the Tories got than the furious and resentful politics of nationalism? As the economies of Europe stutter and shrink, nationalism is on the rise almost everywhere. In Britain we have been blinded to it by our insularity and by the risible performance of the British National Party. But British nationalism is a red herring in this context. It’s the contest between Scottish nationalism and English nationalism that will do much to shape the future."
Current Location: Water St.
Current Music: Vitamin String Quartet - Toxicity
26 November 2016 @ 02:09 pm
This Quiet Dust – A ReviewCollapse )
Current Location: Home
Current Music: Rev Theory - Guns
25 November 2016 @ 04:41 pm
-- There is no such thing as western civilisation - Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Guardian, Nov. 9, 2016

"If the notion of Christendom was an artefact of a prolonged military struggle against Muslim forces, our modern concept of western culture largely took its present shape during the cold war. In the chill of battle, we forged a grand narrative about Athenian democracy, the Magna Carta, Copernican revolution, and so on. Plato to Nato. Western culture was, at its core, individualistic and democratic and liberty-minded and tolerant and progressive and rational and scientific. Never mind that pre-modern Europe was none of these things, and that until the past century democracy was the exception in Europe – something that few stalwarts of western thought had anything good to say about. The idea that tolerance was constitutive of something called western culture would have surprised Edward Burnett Tylor, who, as a Quaker, had been barred from attending England’s great universities. To be blunt: if western culture were real, we wouldn’t spend so much time talking it up."

-- The Things They Burned - Jennifer Percy, The New Republic, Nov. 22, 2016

"Specialist Nicolas Plantiko burned dogs. Sergeant Thomas J. Brennan burned lithium ion batteries, flame-resistant FROG suits, and MK-19 rounds. He burned plastic chemical drums, nylon, tires, wires, and tarps. He burned shit and piss. Sergeant Bill Moody’s unit burned a Porta-John, dried-up MREs, and 500 loaves of moldy bread. Staff Sergeant Louis Levesque burned bunk beds. Private Johnnie Stevenson burned plastic bottles because he loved the way they hissed. Airborne infantryman Dennis St. Pierre burned radio batteries and chemlights. Sergeant Carlos Castro joked about burning another soldier for talking too much. Captain Matthew Frye burned a packet of Tabasco sauce that exploded and nearly took out the JTAC’s eye. Staff Sergeant Tim Wymore burned 25 loads of DEET-soaked tents and walked around with the taste of smoke in his mouth. Sergeant Zachary Bell burned batteries because the Taliban used the carbon rods for IED triggers. Specialist Dante Sowell burned burlap bags so he wouldn’t have to fill them up with sand. Captain Adrian Bonenberger watched a Christmas tree go into a burn pit. Private George Snyder burned Private Stuart Decker’s one confirmed kill. Sergeant Casey Rohrich burned a human toe. They burned magazines, movies, junk food, college brochures, and pamphlets for the GI Bill. They burned amputated body parts and Humvee parts. They burned human waste and plastic meal trays. They burned the blood and clothes of the wounded."
Current Location: Water St.
Current Music: Skindred - No Justice
25 November 2016 @ 11:44 am
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Current Location: Water St.
Current Music: PJ Harvey - Is This Desire?
25 November 2016 @ 07:30 am
A woman I saw briefly at the beginning of the year and with whom I remain friends is preparing to line-edit a story of mine that will appear in an upcoming anthology. She remarked to me last night that, between this (my appearance in the anthology), the book, and my recent Oxford Press review, now was my time and that I should enjoy it. I could reply only that I was doing my best. A smiley-face emoji provided the remark's terminal punctuation.
Current Location: Metro-North
Current Music: Periphery - Absolomb
Her in Jacksonville, me in West Hartford.

3.56pm: "Just touched down at some cousins' place. In proper Nigerian fashion, football game's on the Tele and food has still not been made."

3.58pm: "Patchy cell reception here but updates forthcoming."


4.29pm: The girls are nursing mimosas. (2 pictures attached)

4.46pm: We're at the loud political discussion stage.

Her, 5.17: Hahahaaaa I can only imagine.

Her, 5.18: "Still frying more and more shrimp.

5.25pm: I'm the only guy in the kitchen. All us Millennials are loudly agreeing on politics and laughing so hard. All the Nigerian men are one room over riveted by the Cowboys-Redskins game with a tray of Guinness and Heineken on the living room table.

Her, 5.29: Hahaha! I can so picture it.... I'm STILL at the shrimp with my niece as sous chef.

Her, 5.37: Menfolk are watching the game as well...my dad is only man in the kitchen. Y'all two holdin it down.

Her, 5.42: My cousin and nephew.. (1 picture attached)

Her, 5.43: (p.s. GO SKINS)

Me, 5.49: OMG

Her, 5.50: bitmoji: Haters Gonna Hate

Me, 6.24: Here comes a deluge:

5 pictures of us, my siblings, cousins, about to pray over the food, Uncle and Auntie in love in front of the camera.


Me, 7.01: Mom throwin haymakers in this battle with my uncles on some Trump 'ish I'm so proud.

Her, 7.03: Aawww boy I'm scared to even bring it up.

Me, 7.03: Really, they're just licking their wounds. ;)

Me, 7.04: One cousin just rolled thru the living room with a plate full of toothpicks for the uncles watching the game.

Her, 7.06: We are busy trying to remember which gogo song carried the lyrics 'is that your boo? Boo boo?'


Me, 7.07: I am so happy for today.


Me, 7.09: Note the hot sauce in the middle of the table. (1 picture of Mom with several aunties.)

Her, 7.09: TOUCHDOWN


Me, 7.38: One of my aunties after hearing me wearily decline a piece of cheesecake: It's okay. I understand. It's time for me to marry my bed too.

Current Location: New Haven
Current Music: cars driving by
24 November 2016 @ 02:44 pm
I don't know that she was ever interested in friendship on its own, the Girl. The other thing, certainly, even after the break and after its possibility receded further and further into the distance. She asked after a friend with whom I had recently reconnected, and there was accusation in the query. In conversation with a dear law school friend with whom I share a work-building yesterday, talk of the reconnection had joy blooming in her face. She was happy for me, and we talked. Of relationships and mistakes, joy both elusive and realized.

One thing that has come up that hadn't in a while was the Cataclysm that attended the end of 2013 and the subsequent realization that I'd arrived at a point in my life where it was not incumbent upon me to correct mistaken impressions of me held by people I'd once cared and still care for. There, it was a matter of futility, brittle detente, and war cannons held at the ready. This time around, it's something softer, but there's another sense of futility in it, attended by the realization that perhaps she only envisioned one type of After, or rather 2, with no intermediate ground. Her caring was different from mine, of course, hers of the variety that saw mine as not caring at all.

In this respect, I'm thankful for what attended that fall three years ago. Otherwise, I'd probably be out there right now, wasting breath and energy trying to convince someone of something they're not trying to hear, change a mind that does not want it; meanwhile, so many other good things I've managed to hold on to are flying right out the open door.

It's the right kind of chilly outside, but it's warm in here, and there's food and love and caring. And Onra instrumentals are playing over the iPod dock. And everything smells so, so good.
Current Location: Home
Current Music: Onra - Chinoiseries Pt. II
23 November 2016 @ 10:02 pm
My train home was initially supposed to leave at 8.44 pm. The 148 going from New Haven to Hartford on its way to Springfield. The train did not arrive until an hour later and even then it was a different one than indicated on my ticket. I didn't much mind as text messages from Amtrak warned that I'd be held at Union Station in New Haven for at least another half hour.

As we pulled out of New Haven, the conductor explained why there had been so many delays this evening. Indeed, the board at Union Station was alight with "Delayed" notices. 2 hours late. 2 hours 15 mins late. 3 hours late. In a voice trying very hard not to reveal the full extent of its despair, the conductor told this not-too-crowded train that there had been a suicide. He remarked on this particular time of year, and family, and for some time after, the train car was quiet.

Mom is on her way to work right now. I won't see her until tomorrow when the meal is made. My youngest sister will be driving in tomorrow morning. A woman who has managed quite effortlessly to keep me smiling this entire week is flying south to see family. My brother will be waiting for me at home. With his Xbox.

This time of year...

Sometimes, it's like watching a fight. You watch boxing enough times, you're bound to see a ring death. You go through enough Thanksgivings and Christmases and birthdays and eventually you're bound to come across one of these announcements. Whether spoken over a loudspeaker or murmured into a kerchief. Whether written in an email, whether said over the phone.

I hope all of us make it to where we're going safely. And that who we hope will be there waiting for us will be there waiting for us.
Current Location: amtrak
Current Music: Heart of a Coward - Skeletal II: Arise