Life has two rules: number 1, Never quit!; number 2, Always remember rule number 1 ~Duke Ellington
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Friday, July 23, 2004

October 21, 2001 Sunday

Thank you Father for this opportunity to see another part of your world. I feel blessed to be able to once again take a trip.

It was good seeing Allegra and the boys. I can't believe it's been so many years since we last hung out. The question pops up--why do people not communicate more with their family and friends? Seems like the only time we all come together are at events like weddings or funerals. Well anyway, it was a treat to see and talk to an old friend.

Today is Sunday and it was a pleasant beautiful day. When I got to the ship, I didn't have any problems. For example. I walked in and saw all of these long lines. I just knew I was going to be in for a very long and tedious time. Not. I was directed by someone to go to this booth--since I had to pick up my ticket...and there was NO LINE. I walked right up. Now, this one woman who worked there kept trying to tell me I needed to go get in the VERY LONG LINE and insisted I was in the wrong line...but the lady who had already taken my information, said ignore her, so she continued to enter in my info, etc.
Because of the ladies rudeness, I was probably given "quick access." See it doesn't pay to be After the other clerk entered my stuff, I was checked in automatically and NO LINES...I walked directly on the ship.

When I got onboard, the first thing I did was register for the African American Book Club Summit. I got a few goodies to take back with me (nice gift bag filled with 2 new books, 2 tshirts, 2 book bags, bookmarkers, etc...) yippee.

After registering, I found my part about it, I have the room ALL TO MYSELF...and I didn't have to pay extra for it...yippee.

My first night at dinner, my assigned seating happened to be with some nice AA people (normally when I cruise, I'm sitting with non-English speaking or non AAs; so I was thrilled.). They were older and were on for a high school reunion. They were from Austin/Houston, TX, New Jersey and Delaware. They are all retired and meet up every year or so. They really made me feel like part of the family.

After dinner, I went to the ship spa...had to get me a spa pedicure. Yes, my feet feel 100 percent better. Once done at the spa, I went back to the room to shower and get dressed for the AABCS "meet and greet" reception. All the authors, bookclubs, etc introducted themselves.

I met Bernice McFadden earlier today on the elevator. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to talk to her more indepth since we're staying on the same floor. Met Tonya Evans, who's been a part of my online poetry group. I have nothing but respect for her, she is one of the best poets out there.  The Brothers are representing. Never have I seen this many Black male authors in one place...if you didn't know better, you would say they were in a can feel the love or kinship amongst them.

There are some fine men on this ship from all over the world. This is going to be a nice week. The ship just set sail and I've already had my drink limit...I just love these frozen strawberry daiquirs.

I'm debating if I'm going to the singles dance at midnight. But heck, why not. I'm single...might as well have some fun.

Monday, Oct 22

Last night, the dance was off the hook...what happens on the ship, stays on the ship.

Today was a day of seminars and meeting new people.
The seminars were pretty good. I learned quite a few writing tips and also got some book club ideas just in case I decide to begin one or join one when I get back home.
I also went to all of the scheduled booksignings-- a sista is going to have fun reading all of these books.

It was a full day. I don't think I got a moment's rest. I went to the ship's casino. I spent 20, and won $19.45 on the nickel slot machines.

Tuesday, Oct 23

Went to some more seminars. Steven Barnes was the highlight of the morning. He's done a few screenplays. I'll check out his website when I get back to the States. Marcus Major is very talented. I've really enjoyed reading his other books. William Cooper was a down to earth brother, he encouraged me to submit my manuscript to agents/publishers.

Thus far, I've received some good responses about my poetry. It's been very uplifting.

This afternoon, I didn't attend any of the seminars. I decided to enjoy the afternoon on the ocean. I took a stroll around the ship...found a quiet place on deck and finally finished reading this novel I had started two days ago. I was enjoying that nice ocean breeze, but as night time approached, I ventured back inside. It was a pleasant way to end an afternoon.

Wed, Oct 24

Visited the island of Jamaica. We landed in Montega Bay. I took a bus tour to Dunnes Falls located in Ochio Rios. The beaches there are breath-taking beautiful; however the islanders there are poor (their poor doesn't compare to our poor). I didn't hardly see anyone who wasn't "people of color."

Jamaican money ain't worth jack. For $2 American money, I can get 75 of their money.

I am so sleepy. I've been having too much fun and too busy to sleep. I need a nap.

When I went to one of the markets in Jamaica, the people kept begging for your money and cussed you out when you didn't want to buy from them.

Thurs Oct 25

Went to a more European island, The Grand Cayman Islands. Overall, the island was beautiful. The beaches...I could have stayed and laid on the sand all day...magnificient.

This is the first time I've ever experience seasickness. The rocking of the boat is making me nauseated.

Anyway, back to the island. The people in Grand Caymens were friendly and not as aggressive as the Jamaicans. Can tell the island is rich overall.

Well the week is quickly coming to an end. Tomorrow, I will be in Cozumel Mexico and then on the sea headed back home.

Tomorrow night, I'll attend the poetry slam. I'm not participating, but I can't wait to see them get on stage and do their thing.

I played cards around midnight with who I call my "card buddies."
The other night, some of the authors got together to play TABOO...It was fun.

MISC - Her are a few things I learned from my trip.
Jamaica - cars were older...they had US franchises like Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC...overall Poor have the HAVES and so many poor. They spoke the Queen's English. Oh yeah, I forgot about Exxon or ESSO. They also have counties and parishes.

Grand Cayman Island - This is a Banking/Financial island, people seem to be from mexican descent...multi-cultural. Surprised to see Cable and Wireless (one of my clients) is the major telephone company here. 80 cents equates to $1 US dollar. The cars are newer. Overall, looks to be a richer island. The police officers don't have firearms. Condos - 100k to 2 million on the average. Beaches of course beautiful.
Before 1960, men had to go to other islands to make a living.

Cozumel, Mexico - The police here are fully armed (a big difference than the Caymans)...thought I was on Rambo...but after realizing I was going to get shot, I enjoyed myself shopping and eating authentic Mexican food. I played it safe and ate nachos...but the meat sure looked funny.  One thing I like about them...they believe in taking their Siestas.

There are so many things about this trip that I will always remember. I'm just tired of writing them down now...:)

Memories...precious Memories
SMG - October 2001

HEALING - Dealing with MY DAD'S DEATH 11/4/1996

As I was packing and going through my things, I came across an old journal. Below are a few of my thoughts. This entry is approximately 7 months after my father's death.

Let's see, where should I begin. As the days go by, I'm trying to cope with the facts of life. If you live, there will be death. It's like I was living in a totally different world before. Now it all seems unreal.

How do you face the pain, so you can live again? It's difficult.

I'm having difficulty coping so how can I help my brother John. It still seems like it was yesterday, when it's actually been 7 months. Will I ever stop counting the time?

Reading the Bible daily  has brought me much comfort.

Sometimes I wonder what my future holds. But then it's best that I don't know.

I got a promotion and I know my Dad would have been proud of me.

It just seems so strange, without him here. I guess I took him for granted. Believing he would always be here. However, an angel warned me last summer to stop because I didn't know how long my Dad would be here. It warned me 2x--the second time was in August. Part of me re-acted, but another part didn't.

Right now, I'm only bringing up negative stuff. But there were some good times. My project for myself is to sit back and try to remember the good times.

I pray to God that we had some good memories.
Signing off now. Peace SMG 5-31-97
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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

As I pack up my stuff to move, I keep coming across things I've written in the past. The excerpt I will post here is my contribution to a group poem.

The struggle for freedom began hundreds of years ago. African Kings and Queens brought to America were bought and sold. They came over on ships destined for what some called "the land of the free." But stepped off onto a land filled with strive and misery. Through trials and tribulation they were able to overcome. Some sacrificed their lives just for the sake of "FREEDOM."

If I could get into the rhythm and let my words flow, maybe I would be compared to Phillis Wheatley a poet of long ago. In 1773, she was the first Black Female Published Poet who spoke on a variety of things. Although most spoke of the struggle, she chose to speak of a woman's strength and dreams.

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