The Week In Review

This Week In Pictures

This Week In Pictures

What have we learned this week, dear readers?

I learned that blogging. is. hard. I am always supremely annoyed when Thembi, my favorite blogger takes a few days off. I seriously roll my eyes and suck my teeth if I visit her site and she hasn’t updated in a day or two. And now, I feel her pain. (And she does a LOT more work than I do to get her posts together. I have eight categories I plan to address here on my blog. And the majority of my posts so far have been Random.)

Each post has taken me three hours to put together start to finish. I’d love to hear from Anslem on if that’s normal or if I’m doing something wrong. Anslem, by the way, is the person who has inspired me to start blogging. A few months ago, I noticed that he was “mentioning” me in these notes he published on Facebook. I learned quickly that he wasn’t actually mentioning me at all! He was just “tagging” me to drag me to his site. It worked. Like twice. And then I caught on to his tricks. (Though I still visit and urge you to do the same.) I’ve decided I’ll only tag people I actually mention in my notes. So if you see I’ve tagged you on Facebook, believe I’ve talked about you. Though, this rule could change without warning.

I’ve loved the comments. The perspective I’ve gotten on many topics have been refreshing and much appreciated. To that end, I plan to give out a weekly Commenter Award. (I don’t have a catchy term for it yet. I’ll take suggestions).

This week’s winner is: “Sheena,” who had this to say about my post on my ex-boyfriend deleting me from his friend list. (emphasis mine)

I’ve both ignored and deleted exes from my friends list when it came clear to me that i really didn’t want to see their pictures, didn’t particularly care about their status and had basically abandoned any real, meaningful interest in their lives. i’ve learned to be pretty cold in that way – not with an intent to insult, but with a ruthlessness about my own emotional self-care. ultimately, it wasn’t really about them, just more about what i want and don’t want to experience on facebook and the need for me to detach from people and experiences in the past so i be can sane and productive in the now.

all that said, don’t take it personally, li. alex’s actions probably have nothing to do with you per se. that’s a weight on your spirit you don’t even have to pick up, much less release …

That did it for me right there. She piled it all nice and neat, wrapped it in sturdy twine and put it out with the recycling. Done. I didn’t know who “Sheena” was right away. I clicked through and then hit my hand on my forehead. Of course it would be Sheena Lester! She’s the closest thing I’ve got to Oprah on my Friend List.

A quick digression on Sheena: When I was first starting out as a writer, I often did music reviews for XXL, where she was editor-in-chief. (I wrote the reviews from my cubicle at Billboard, where I would hide my screen when the editor-in-chief, the late Timothy White, would walk by). An editor named Blackspot would assign me a review, messenger the music to me at 1515 Broadway and I usually had a day, if that, to get the review back to him.

I had to review Brandy’s album, Never Say Never. Can’t remember what I wrote. But I know it was flowery and cute. And didn’t say a damn thing about the album. Blackspot did the best he could editing my drivel and then sent it to Sheena. She wrote a scathing reply in the edits. I won’t go into details. But homegirl ripped me a new one. It had lines in it like, “um, can I get a SONG TITLE, please? Can I know what any of these songs actually SOUND like? Mid-tempo? Ballad? Arena rock? Death metal? hello?”

At the very end, Sheena said:
I want a complete re-write. And tell Ms. King to come with more substance, less style. Not vice versa.

Ooooh, ya’ll. I sat at my cubicle in Billboard and I BAWLED. I cried so hard I had to take the elevator downstairs and go out into the streets and catch my breath. It was a Wednesday. Which meant the streets were more crowded than usual with tourists because that’s the cheap matinee day. And TRL, which taped in our building, had someone big coming in that day. So the streets were just teeming with people. I wandered up and down Broadway, crying like a baby. I just knew my career was over. Sheena Lester said I sucked. And she was right. Would I ever get another assignment again? From anywhere?

Okay, so I was a bit melodramatic. But when you first start in the freelance game, things like that really do feel like the end of the world. What I didn’t realize then was that Sheena actually saw something in me. She could have just told Blackspot to find a different writer all together. She made ME do the re-write. Because she wanted me to get it right. And I did.
I went back up to my cubicle. Printed that note out and taped it onto my monitor. Here’s me at my cubicle at Billboard back in ’99, with Sheena’s note on my monitor. (We will NOT discuss or make ANY comments on this photo. Not about the half smile OR the undone hair. We’ve talked about this already. RIGHT?) Sheena’s note is on the bottom of my monitor. The most important lines (i.e. the ones that made me cry) are highlighted in blue).

Undone hair. check. Kool-Aid smile. reining it in. barely.

Undone hair. check. Kool-Aid smile. reining it in. barely.

I took that note with me from job to job and computer to computer for years and years. I don’t know where that tiny piece of paper is today. But I know Sheena’s sentiments: more substance. less style. resonates with me EVERY time I write. I look over everything before I hand it in and give it the Sheena Lester Substance Style Check©

Oh my dear readers, are you still with me? The Sheena story probably should have been a whole ‘nother post! I digress!

Back to our week in review. Sheena’s our Commenter Of The Week. The prize is a virtual hug. It’s coming in 1…2…NOW.

We also had a contest this week: longest starbucks order. The winner is Kim Osorio, whose order is not only long. But absolutely insane. I can’t even revisit it right now. But it was something about skim milk and whipped cream and some other foolishness about just how hot it needed to be.  Kim, I ordered your Starbucks card. I’ll let you know when it arrives.

I moved into my brand new office this week. And this blog has been possible because of my dedicated work space. It’s changing my life. And I absolutely love it. I go in at 9. I work my ass off. Come up for air, knowing it must be 1PM. And it’s only 10:30!! I am loving it.

I started out the week counseling dear Jenny Gurvich, majoring in marketing when she really wants to write. The comments in that section were really encouraging, even to me. So I hope Jenny’s thinking it over.

We all bonded over that It Spot, the place you think you need to go to once in your life, just so you can say you did. I went to Michael’s, with mixed results. My dear reader Naima is pondering a trip to the fabled Mr. Chow’s. (go. seriously).

I learned about the heat check. And I realized what my next half-court-at-the-buzzer move will be: trying to update this blog each weekday. Hot damn. I love the community I’m building here. And I’d love to see how far I can take it. Stay tuned.

My plan is to have a Flashback Friday each week, revisiting an interesting story I’ve written and giving my dear readers some behind-the-scenes perspective.

But then, yesterday, I came into my office, all set to write about my Mariah Carey interview and instead, I got derailed because I got Deleted. And that opened a whole can of worms that I’ve just forced back into the canister and have now thrown out.

And of course, we all came clean about our hidden Facebook Photo Phobia, my highest rated post this week. Turns I’m not the only one who hates having my picture taken. And I’m not the only one who doesn’t want my bits all over Facebook either. My girl Portia has apologized profusely for blowing my spot up. And then, behind the scenes, she sent me an email, telling me that she had another pic that I would have been REALLY pissed about and that she would never post and tag. She even attached the photo and said: see, now here’s a picture I wouldn’t have tagged:

undone hair. check. Kool-Aid smile. uncheck.

undone hair. check. Kool-Aid smile. uncheck.

Hmph. I wouldn’t have minded this picture! Sure, I look crazy. But at least my bits aren’t all on display. Portia said something about how she wouldn’t have posted this picture because her apartment looks like crap in the background. Yeah, well. Now we’re even old pal.

I think the lessons I receive from my blog should prompt some action each week. This week, I’m going to try to not be so photo-phobic. I’ve posted TWO pictures of myself in this very post! Yay me! And you know what, to keep the momentum going, I’m gonna even update my Profile Pic on Facebook. What I’ve got up now is from 1979. I’m posting an updated picture ASAP. So dear reader, when you finsh reading this, check out my brand new updated pic on Facebook. Don’t know when exactly the picture was taken. But it’s definitely an update. Enjoy! And keep coming back!

15 Responses to “The Week In Review”

  1. Frank Gatlin Says:

    My girl Aliya! I enjoyed your blog and I will be looking forward to the next joy ride, I mean, blog. I was reading a quote the other day from somebody I can’t remember but he said…”Never wallow in mediocrity, try hard things.” You are living that quote and are inspiring me to reach another level. Thank you. Good to see Rutgers Alumni doing the damn thing!!!!! I look forward to your next “spiritual vitamin.”

    Frank Gatlin

  2. Marcus Says:

    Word on the Sheena lesson that you continue to use. I have one I learned from Dimitry Leger, who edited an Erick Sermon feature I did over a decade ago for TRUE. Had trouble ending the piece and rambled to no end. When I asked D what I could do to end a feature better, he said think of writing like gymnastics. When you start, you’re on your feet. You can do backflips, somersaults, any kind of combination you could want. But when you land you should land on your feet. Meaning always end somewhere in the idea you started the piece with. Not only did that free me up with writing, but when ever I end a piece—of any genre— those words play in my head every time…lol. Thanks D. And great post, Aliya!

  3. anslem Says:

    don’t think there’s a right or wrong really. whatever works for you, it’s yours. And the best part is there are no pesky editors with their troublesome word counts. LOL

    Good Sheena story. Inspiration for us all.
    Anslem aka Tag King

  4. Linda Hobbs Says:

    You are SO RIGHT about that Facebook photo stuff, lol. Somebody almost lost me as a homie (for life) for posting up some old ridiculous ATL college photos, with me tagged all over the place! It’s a free country, sure, but I don’t really play that.

    On another note, maybe you should make your posts extra short, but keep the spice. That way, you might not get burned out so quick. The blogs I love to check out are really just random thoughts. It’s in and out. Never longer than a paragraph or two.

  5. Tmor Says:

    I’m really enjoying reading your blog. It helps to nurture the writer in me. A friend told me that reading writers I like will help my own writing so thank you.

  6. Portia Says:

    Girl….take that photo down….

  7. Retha Says:

    Week in review…love it….looking forward to next week. Oh, Portia’s comment…too funny.

  8. Hanif Says:

    Well Thank you. You left me hanging for a little bit, I kept going back to your old blog spot, re reading your stories about your trip to Canada and Israel, waiting….and waiting for an update.

    So I’m glad to see your back at it. I’ve enjoyed reading your post and comments, and appreciate the references to your other work. Now I can catch up on my reading.

    I also appreciate your “scathing” reviews about the work that I sent you, I haven’t posted it to the computer but I keep it on my hard drive. I didn’t cry either, although it knocked me down a peg or too and had me cursing my other readings as pesky yes men. I thought I was hottest thing this side of the mason dixon. Glad I had you to go to. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Frank: Thank you so much!!! go RU!!
    @Marcus: Dimitry dropped a gem on me years ago that’s also stayed with me. I’m saving it til another post.
    @Linda: I thought about shortening the posts. But I’m not sure I can. it’s not the writing that drains me. It’s the photo-gathering and then the tagging and letting people know I’ve updated. I have a feeling my posts will become shorter by default as I get into it. I have no internal editor yet so I’m writing unfiltered. That will change. I think.
    @Tmor:thank you! thank you! thank you! I really appreciate that.
    @Portia: Nope. I ain’t.
    @Retha: don’t she have a nerve?
    @Hanif: Wow. I barely remember sending you a sharp-tongue critique. I remember you being a very solid writer! And I am so happy you are back in my community. You are one of a select few who were a part of my very blog audience years ago!

  10. la negrita Says:


    Blogging IS hard. Well…if you care about substance. ;-) One of my favorite old school bloggers–huny–talked about it in one of her entries. She had been blogging since 2000 or so…waaaay before the blog explosion (and she’s supposed to be starting again–yay!). I’ve had my current website since 2006. Had a different one a year prior, and before that I was hosted on diaryland. I’m really inconsistent with my blogging and I hope to change that this year. But I’m a “substance over style” person, and while I may not be the best blogger around, I won’t post just to post. It has to be up to my personal standards. And personally, I’m a fan of longer entries. Well, when the writer is actually good! :-p

    It takes me about 2 hours to complete an entry. #1, because I just plain suck at sitting at a computer and writing from my head. Blogging makes this much easier since it’s more of a stream-of-consciousness thing, but if I’m writing something for a job or contest, I have to write a draft on paper first. It’s something I need to work on. And yes, searching around for the images you want to use for your entry is another time stealer. But once it all comes together, you get that warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment. :)

    I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your updates. Hopefully you won’t shorten them TOO much! ;-) BTW, this is the Chicago-area writer who you did the e-mail interview with in November. Thanks again!

  11. Aliya S. King Says:

    @ le negrita: thank you so much for your kind words and advice…I read huny’s entry and several other posts. She’s dope. I needed that. I like the warm fuzzies too. So I’m gonna try to keep at this for a while. By the way, you are part of the reason why I’m doing this. A lot of the responses I gave you were things I wished I could share with a larger audience. So I will revisit some of those themes here…So happy to have you here!

  12. Dylan Says:

    I remember when you got that edit! I was thinking at the time, if I got an edit like that, I’d pack it in. But you didn’t. You actually thought it was cool, even then. Which perhaps explains why I’m now an architecture consultant, and you’re a writer.

    (Also, I think I took that picture of you in your BB cube!)

  13. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Dyl: you totally took that picture of me. I found the rest last night. One of them involves me splayed out on a conference room table. Not sure why. And now I’m remembering you attempting to comfort me, (via email, although we were two feet apart), about how it was not the end of my career….I didn’t believe you.

  14. kim osorio Says:

    Aliya, I started a blog a little over a year ago. My intention was to write when I felt like it, or when something prompted me to. Then, i started getting a nice amount of hits, and I felt obligated to just post anything. i started posting all types of stuff that meant absolutely nothing, and so on and so on. but i just couldn’t keep up. The bottom line is that I figured out that I am the worst writer when I have nothing to say. Blogging is harder when I force it, and i realized that sometimes it’s so hard to write when my thoughts are interrupted with “mommy” every three minutes, a ringing phone, a deadline or a diaper full of baby boo-boo. Even as i type this, my 22 month old is bent over a glass table with a half eaten dagger-shaped candy cane in her mouth. now, i just lost my train of thought. bye.

    P.S. I need a “portia” in my life.

  15. Aliya S. King Says:

    @kim: I am trying not to ever look at my stats. I really don’t know much about how this works. I know I write down words. I tell people I’ve written them down. And (I think) they read them. As far as I know, the only people who are actually reading these posts are the people who leave comments. That’s the only way I think I’ll keep going. *If* I keep going on. The truth of the matter is, my assignments are in a holding pattern right now and blogging is keeping me sane. In two months, (weeks? days? hours?), I will be swamped. I don’t know what will happen then. I really don’t.

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