Friday Reflections

1.) Whew. What is our world now? What is this injustice so pervasive in our society and what role can each of us play in it? Please think careful about how YOU can contribute to a fairer world.

2.) I've been a little quiet about all of this craziness because honestly, I am FURIOUS. I am angry and I am very, very exhausted. But we must continue to bring the light.

3.) I want you to know though, that God is a God of justice.

4.) That said, I feel like I should sprinkle some joy on cyber space, which is needed desperately today.  Or at the very least, some distraction. So here goes.




5.) Elaine Welteroth got married on her Brooklyn stoop because of COVID-19, then threw a virtual block party. There was something so organic about these pictures. It did not feel forced at all; their love, I mean.

6.) Why more Christians need therapy.

7.) This brilliant profile of an incredibly brilliant genius who saved the Internet is a lesson on good, bad, evil, and moral complexity. Please please read it. It is a long but extremely worthy read.

8.) This enlightening video on The Financial Diet about debt, finances, and some insights on how little time women have.

9.) Gentle reminder that just because you are angry or tired of a virus does not mean it automatically disappears.

10.) How to Get Away With Murder had its series finale two weeks ago. I gotta say, as far as series finales go, that was one of the best I've every seen. They neatly wrapped up every character's storyline in a befitting manner. Boy, will I miss Viola Davis on TV and the fire she always brings. That woman has RANGE.

11.) Series creator, Pete Nowalk reflects on the legacy of the show

12.) The "just stay at home" message will apparently backfire.

13.) That's it folks. Remember these two sayings by MLK: we must never ever keep silent in the face of injustice because then we would have chosen the side of the oppressor. Just as well, remember that riot is the voice of the unheard.

Love, peace, and justice,

I

How to Write Your PhD or Graduate School Application Essay and Statement of Interest

Fall is approaching and this means graduate school applications will soon begin to open up.  And one of the most important aspect of your application is your statement of interest or statement of purpose or personal essay or application essay, whatever you want to call it. No matter what field you are in, you absolutely are required to write one. It allows admission committees to better understand your background and interests. Plus they would be able to tell if you are even a good match for their program. And yes, I know, I know, there are tons of advice on this all over Al Gore's Internet. But I wanted to write something practical and straightforward or at least give some tips on writing one. It can be very overwhelming to start out with an essay like this, but it's not impossible. Okay? Okay, let's go.




An Invincible Love Story

I was recently going through draft posts and I saw a post with these words:

Romans 8: 31-39

For when I share my testimony

They are from 2016. And honestly, I can't quite remember what the testimony is anymore. But I read those verses all over again and goodness, what a timely reminder. It's a reminder that if God could be so gracious as to give his beloved son to die for our sins then we can be certain he is for us. And if God is for us, then what can be against us?



The verses I especially want to highlight start from verse 35 where we are told that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Not hardship, not anxiety, not trouble, not famine, not persecution can separate us from the immeasurable love God has for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

The implication of this is that the fact that God loves us does not mean we won't go through challenges. It means that even through it, we can endure because of our confidence in God. It means God is right there with us through it all. This is why God's love must never be measured in the amount of material possessions a person has. Nothing on this earth, the chapter continues on to say, can ever separate us from our father's love. This kind of love is durable. It lasts long and passes through fire.

I recently saw a tweet that said something along the lines of, "do you ever fear you will never find love". This was an extremely weird question. Because first of all, you must have such a parochial definition of love to even entertain such a rubbish question. The earlier we can start broadening our view of love to know that love is not just derived from romantic partners, the better for us. Evidence from all of human history shows us romantic love is often the least durable. God shows us his love in a myriad of ways and through myriad of people. If you will accept it, there is a whole lot of love waiting for you. I like to think of God's love as invincible, durable, tenacious.

I feel like times of hardship can often make us feel like God has left us. And you are not alone in this; some of our favorite biblical characters felt abandoned by God at one point or the other. Even Jesus who was in on the plan to die for our sins (who was absolutely down for it) after the persecution and just physical hardship he had to endure, at some point it felt like he had been abandoned and he cried out to God. So suffering, rejections, failure, joblessness, financial hardship, depression...none of this should make you feel like God hates you. While some of those things might be God pruning you or God saving you from something else, sometimes we might never know what they mean.

After a brief blogger existential crisis in the last post, this post was  meant to serve as a gentle reminder that you are infinitely loved and no amount of suffering can change that.

So there you have it, my testimony then and always.

Love,

I

Trying to Solve an Existential Crisis

It's been a while I've posted OG long form, freestyle, pure rambling, and just the type of words true to the style of the blog. So here we are. Day 2248940585 of Quarantine, my goodness, who would have thought? But we are here and no matter how tired we are, we should try to listen to the experts, the scientists, not some political doofus (this is not directed to any one political doofus. In fact, there are several of them across the globe now).

The first line of this post begs the question, what IS the style of this blog? I don't mean to be existential, but when you read about how to grow your blog (an increasingly tough feat in the world we live in now), the first thing they tell you is, have a niche. They say that to imply you must not be too broad; you must cater to one specific thing and only talk about it. Ha. That is quite literally impossible for me to do. No really, my brain does not have the capacity to only talk about one single thing for the rest of my life. So basically, pick food and only talk about food? Or only talk about hair? Nah. Or just talk about grad school? Or just talk about career? Or just social justice? Or perhaps feminism?  Or faith? Or worst of all, bore you endlessly about my personal life?



Perhaps, experts on things like this would tell you that's why your blog isn't mainstream or why it isn't growing fast enough. I don't know about that. I feel like it's increasingly difficult to capture people's attention. And can you blame folks? Why would anyone want to read something so long if they can watch a 20-second Tik Tok video? It's just the world we live in. That said, I will try to limit what I write about on this blog to the core themes of the blog. So far, the Instagram page has managed to do that and not be as all over the place as the blog.

At the core of it, I'm a storyteller. I like to tell stories. I like to write. To answer the aforementioned question, what is the style of this blog? Storytelling. No matter what it's about, the goal has always been that you leave feeling a little better than you came. Of course, if there's anything you'd like to see me write about, feel free to let me know in the comment section below or via email. And if I can, then absolutely, I will write about it.

So I hope you join me on this journey or if you have always been a part of it, then I hope you remain on this journey. And I hope you know that no matter what's happening out there in this crazy, crazy world, you are always welcome here.

Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.) #JusticeforAhmaudArbery. It's so exhausting to constantly plead for justice and fight for our lives. But we must continue to bring the fire. We must never ever get numb, which is why I beg you to not share the video that dehumanizes Ahmaud like so. We can and must find a way to get justice for Ahmaud while preserving his dignity.

2.) Someone recently dropped a comment on a post I wrote FIVE years ago about how they especially relate to it during this pandemic. It was so heartfelt, and it blows my mind how much that particular post seems to resonate with people; it is one of the most read posts of ALL time on this blog. That kind of comment is why I don't think I will stop blogging/writing.

3.) Speaking of old posts, check out this post  on people watching haha. Also written five years ago. Man, I love doing this. It's about a little girl and her brother.

4.) Alright, enough nostalgia.

5.) Don't regret regret.

6.) Finding God's will for "not as prophetic" Christians.

7.) A divorce attorney on prenups, ugly money arguments, and what people don't know about divorce. I feel like every couple, or just everyone should listen to this. So so enlightening.

8.) Contrapoints is the only human being that can make me watch a  >1hr video on YouTube. And yes, it did take me a few days to complete. But so incredibly clever! Anyhoo, it's a brilliant summation on canceling and the cancel culture we find ourselves.

8.) How to (not) age gracefully on the the internet, according to Chelsea Fagan.

9.) Man, all the people who have lost their jobs. I have to say I like the classy way Airbnb's boss told members of staff they will have to let some people go. And the severance package also did not seem too bad at all.

10.) Okay, Covid, wrap it up!

11.) People, do me a favor, please. If you read a post on this blog you like and/or enjoy, pleaseeee share, share, share, share. It really helps and encourages me to keep blogging. Thanks very much.

Recipe of the Month: The Best Homemade Nandos Chicken Sandwich

Just because they have not opened outside does not mean we cannot talk about food, okay? Okay? LOL

I know how people (me included) hate how food bloggers tell unnecessary long details before sharing a recipe? Hahaha, I'm about to do that because unfortunately, this is not a food blog :-( I write, ok? That's what I do Lol. That said, you can just scroll all the way to the end for the recipe. I won't even take it personal.

Okay for the rest of us, gather around.

Is this a new segment? A new feature? Who knows. But like book of the month, this is recipe of the month. This was initially my sister's idea, which she gave me a LONG while ago but I never got around to actually implementing it but now that we are all stuck at home, what better time for this, huh? Basically, every month (or thereabout), I will feature a recipe I love or have recently enjoyed. I am not a cook type girl at all so know that it will not be some elaborate stuff. The recipe could be mine or maybe someone else's with my twist?  And by mine, I mean something I made myself not something I invented. Because really, to be fair, no one really invents a recipe. It's just passed from one person to another. So yeah. It might even be a snack.  I think I will make sure that for the most part, it's a tried and tested recipe before sharing. This is not completely new. I have shared food a lot on this blog: see for instance, this banana bread; also see Patricia the big bad bird. And of course we have a whole category dedicated to food on this blog too where we have talked about all kinds of food and restaurants.



Anyhoo, after all that has been said the recipe of this month is a homemade Nandos chicken sandwich. There is honestly not that much to say except that this will be the best homemade chicken sandwich you’ve ever had. I can promise you that. It’s relatively healthy, easy to make and delicious. It can be dinner, lunch, breakfast, brunch, or even a snack. Yeah, there are no rules anymore.

Before we get to pictures and some tricks and tips in making this, let me say I used a healthier dressing which I made by simply mixing plain greek yogurt with honey. I only really like sweet dressings and I wanted something somewhat healthier (than mayo). No measurement too, just eyeball yogurt and add enough honey to taste. Look, literally anyone can prepare this sandwich.

Alright let’s go! 

What you'll need:
Brioche bun (or any bread that makes you feel gooood)
Chicken breast (or any protein)
Carrots
Cabbage
Or in place of carrots and cabbage, just buy a packaged coleslaw from the grocery store
Salt
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Ginger powder
Dried pepper/Pepper flakes (optional)
1-2 tbsp of oil
Nando's Peri-Peri Sauce, Hot (optional)

The dressing:
Plain greek yogurt
Honey


First your chicken. Get chicken breast or any chicken you like or any form of protein and pat to dry. In a bowl that has the chicken, add some salt, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger powder or really any seasoning you have. Mix together. Since I wanted the Nandos flavor, I added some peri peri sauce (hot) but this step is completely optional. I also added dried pepper/pepper flakes (because I have a problem, again, this part is completely optional).



A part of me is tempted to research how to properly write recipes but I also want this to be accessible so let's go my way. Okay leave the now marinaded chicken to rest. After an hour,  heat up your stove and put a tablespoon (or two) of oil in a non-stick pan and place it on the stove. When it's hot, sear your chicken breast on both sides for about 2-4 minutes each, depending on how thick your chicken breast is. The thicker, the longer you should leave it. You will start to see it browning and some "griddle" marks. Yum. If after this you feel like it's not done, that's fine. Just place the pan with the chicken in the over for a few more minutes and it's done. If you are worried about your chicken breast being too dry, you can add a tbsp or two of water and a few drops of lemon juice. If you have a grill, then skip most of the above and just grill it directly.

When your chicken is done, you're practically done. Toast your bun.  Then slather some of the yogurt honey dressing on your toasted bun.




Place your chicken on one half of the bun.




Next, put some dressing in your coleslaw and mix well.Then put the creamy coleslaw on top of the chicken.



Then place the second half of the bun on the coleslaw. Et voila! Chicken sandwich done.



See? Easy peasy. Let me know if you tried it, please. Oh and if you liked this post, please share, share, share.

Thank you!

Love,

I



Book of the Month: Such a Fun Age by Keily Reid

Okay I’m going to say it: am I some form of Luddite?  I recently found that I in fact hate reading novels on digital devices. I read all my academic literature on my electronic devices, so imagine my surprise when I really disliked reading a novel on a digital device. It was just annoying, but I didn’t have a choice. It was the only way to get my book from the library.

Notwithstanding, I LOVE the book of this month.

First of all, I found out about this book on twonightstands. I had literally gone to their website a few weeks ago to look for a book to read—one that was not a memoir—and I found this. By the time I was ready to read it, Coronavirus had taken over and all libraries had closed. This meant I could only access an e-book so I read it on a tablet. I know, first world problems. I’m even ashamed to type all of that.



I have to say though that even just reading the synopsis on twonightstands, I was hooked. But now that I have read the book, I made sure not to go back to their own review until I have written this out so I'm not biased. Makes sense? Okay, let's go.

First of all, the story is an A plus through and through. It’s a debut novel by Kiley Reid about race, privilege, and class. It tells the story of a young black girl, Emira (she’s 25 when we first meet her) and her employer, Alix Chamberlain, whose child(ren?) Emira babysits.  Basically, the story begins at an uncomfortable but not unfamiliar (to black folks) night at a grocery store. After an incidence at the Chamberlains, Emira is called in to take their toddler away from the house while they deal with what was going on. Emira takes the child, Briar, to the aforementioned [bougie] grocery store to kill time at night. Unfortunately [but again, not surprising to black people], as a black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at the local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar.  The only reason the security guard approached them in the first place was because a…yeah, you guessed right, white woman who was smiling with them just minutes before, was “concerned” about a black woman with a white child out so late. So yeah, of course, she calls on the security guard. Of course, as this happens, being the 21st century, someone films this altercation. Now I promise that despite this very ominous beginning, the mood picks up quickly.

Thanks to this incident, Alix finally notices her babysitter and well, things take a very interesting turn. Now, Alix is your caricature Instagram hashtag blessed, hashtag boss mom, hashtag working mom influencer. She is white, in her 30s, and the type of liberal who is woke and hella progressive but also...weird? interesting? annoying? Take your pick.  After the incident, completely filled with white guilt, she takes an interest, and almost obsession-like interest in her nanny and decides to “wake the fuck up”. For the rest of the book, we see their relationship unfold and get to really understand both of them and how they relate to folks around them. The author told the story from different points of view—though still in third person. Switching from Emira’s to Alix Chamberlain’s points of view allowed us to better understand each of their perspectives and in turn empathize with them when necessary...but also want to kick their behinds. The brilliant part is how she is able to get you to feel empathy for each of the characters (well, I felt no empathy for Kelley though but that's just me).

Though, I must admit that I feel like we never really got to know the true Emira. I understand that we are different things to different people and of course, we present differently depending on whether it’s our family or friends or acquaintance or maybe even our boss, but Emira seemed to have this guard that the author never quite let down all through the book. Another confession is that I did not relate to Emira at all. There was something insufferable about her sometimes, and it was NOT the fact that she was aimless and  literally had no idea what to do with her life (been there done that haha). Honestly, I found that part refreshing. I think people are so obsessed with everyone having this grand plan for the future. When sometimes it’s absolutely fine to not know.

Moving on to the themes of this book, which was the best part to to be honest LOL. What makes it truly ingenious was that the themes were not at all forced. Reid wove, rather seamlessly too, the intricacies of race relations especially as it has to do with class, interracial relationships, and OF COURSE, Kelley's irritating virtue signaling.  Look, if there was ever a book that talks about race and class in a fun and easy way, without all the baggage that inherently comes with these topics, this would be it. It was easy, breezy, but also thought provoking. The weird part of the book of this month is that I have an incredible amount to say, but all of it would be spoilers. I just don't know how to talk about the important themes without spoiling it and I don't want to spoil it. It's in fact the type of book perfect for a book-club setting. I really wanted to sit down and have a whole conversation about the book and the character with people but alas, no one I know has read it lol. So please, I truly urge you to read this book. Whether you are black, brown, white, there is SOMETHING for you to learn even in the midst of the humor and lightheartedness. I promise. P.S: I don't think white folks will find it funny at all :-(

The biggest revelation of the book is  as The Atlantic nicely sums up, “…while the white characters fret over what black people think of them and their progressive values, the black characters are busy getting on with their lives and trying to keep up with one another.”

This book is filled with lots and lots of suspense that made it hard to put down. That’s a win, for sure.
Like I alluded to above, apart from the storyline itself,  Reid’s writing is intricate, layered, and very artful. The best part is how easy she makes it look.

I want to talk a little bit about one fault of the book because nothing is truly perfect. First, sometimes I lost track of the characters. Like I still don't know Alix's friends and their life stories. It just kept going over my head and I suspect this was mostly because I did not have an actual book and could not keep scrolling back and forth.  So that's on me and not the author. I have other so-called faults that I have heard people share online but that I disagree with, so I won't share because I don't want you biased. Sorry Lol. In my defense, these so-called problems did not occur to me AT ALL while reading sooo... Lol. However, now that I have heard it...sigh...I can see how someone would think that.

Anyway, you read it and let me know what you think.

One way or another, you won't regret reading this book.

That's it folks. Another book of the month in the books (pardon the pun ha). See you at the next one.

Love,

I