Tag Archives: Epiphany

Life Quickly Moves in Slow Motion

27 Jul

Tanya Harris FranklinWho hasn’t heard the phrase, “Life is too short” or “Time just seems to fly by?”  I’ve even uttered it myself on numerous occasions, but after setting up a dropcam for my baby girl’s nursery (Side note: this is an excellent gadget and can be used for far more than a baby’s nursery. It allows you to a view footage from anywhere on a wifi connection on your iPad, iPod, Android or computer) I have started to become a bit obsessed with watching the footage and question those very statements many of us say repeatedly.  There was one instance in particular when I was watching past footage of my husband and I getting our daughter ready for bedtime.  As he was putting a onesie on her, I was “quickly” straightening up the bathroom and putting her little tub back in its rightful place leaving my husband to fend for himself with our feisty little two month old.  What was actually forty-five seconds to a minute at best seemed like an eternity when I watched the footage. I questioned myself wondering if I was taking too long to straighten things up.  Why does it seem like it was much longer than it was?  I guess that’s why many of these “reality” shows have so much footage edited and removed because watching real life with no edits can be quite slow moving and even boring to some people.

As a result of watching random videos of my life going so quickly in slow motion, I have began pondering over rather life is indeed too short or if time is significantly flying by, or am I just not making every moment of my life count and simply wasting time on unproductive activities?  Why is it that life tends to move more quickly when we are active participants, whereas, it can move at a turtle’s pace when we are mere observers?  I am still figuring out the answers as I compose this blog post, but what I do know is that watching this footage has given me an epiphany: every hour, minute, second and millisecond of not just my life but the lives of those I love and care about matters, and I must sometimes slow down my pace yet be quick on my feet to enjoy life, the people and things that matter the most to me.   Please feel free to share any thoughts you have on one of my random musings.

All the best,

Tanya

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The Ultimate Workshop: Discovering Me!

15 Sep

Tanya Harris Franklin aka AnonomzI just started an MFA program in Creative Writing for poetry, and a main component of one of the courses I am taking is participating in workshops where I provide feedback (I prefer the word feedback to criticism) on the work of my classmates, and they provide feedback, which I try not to take as harsh criticism, on my work.  Having someone look at my work, my heartfelt, overflowing-with-emotions work, has proven to be even more difficult than I expected.  I’ve always struggled with confrontation, shying away from it whenever possible, and in some weird way, I am being confronted about poems on which I have worked so diligently and hard to produce.  Last week, I submitted my first set of poems, and I am pleased to say the feedback was not as severe as I thought it would be; nevertheless, the differing opinions and suggestions and the picking apart of my poems line by line is a lot to process.  It has left me mentally depleted pondering over what feedback I should accept and which ideas I should discard.  Having a support system is wonderful, but how do I not lose my voice as a writer and not simply conform to what others think is best for my work or my writing style?

What’s interesting is that this dilemma has got me thinking about an ultimate workshop: discovering me.  An internal conflict I still struggle with in my everyday life is wanting the approval of others and upholding an image others deem appropriate or noteworthy.  My poems cannot and will not be everything to everybody.  Some people will be quite fond of them, and some people will loathe them.  Therefore, trying to figure out how I should revise my poems or if I should even revise them at all is a pinnacle moment leading to a huge turning point for me.  I am being forced to make decisions on my work, and there is no way around it.  As a result, I am discovering more about me and what I think is best based on other people’s insight.  This line of thinking extends well beyond my poetry, and with each passing day I am finding out a little more about myself, what I like and dislike and trying to figure out how to filter through the beneficial thoughts of others without getting caught up in what they think is best for me.  It will be a lifelong workshop, but I can already sense some growth occurring.

All the best,

Tanya

Profound Hip Hop Quote #28: Ready to Self Destruct?

16 Jul

“I don’t understand the difficulty, people
Love your brother, treat him as an equal
They call us animals mmm mmm I don’t agree with them
I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what your proving them
Take heed before I lead to what I’m sayin’
Or we’ll all be on our knees, prayin’
.” 


—Stop the Violence Movement, formed by KRS One, quoted lyrics by Heavy D “Self Destruction”

Self DestructionAccording to the homicide statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there have been 176 homicides this year (including July 15, 2011).  (Crime Maps & Stats)
Of course, this data does not account for other violent crimes such as armed robbery, rape and aggravated assault.   Is there something about the summer or hot weather that causes people to be even more violent than in the winter?  Is it that more people are just outdoors, so they are bound to resort to violence to address issues of contention they may have.

What about when it comes to people of color?  Are some people innately more violent than others, or does the environment in which people are raised or presently residing play significant roles in how they behave?  Last year, there were 306 homicide victims, as reported on Philly.com. Interestingly,  60 of the homicides involved people who were classified as white, and 242 of the homicides involved people who were classified as black.  This means that nearly 20% of the senseless deaths were white people, and nearly 80% were black people.  I am no sociologist or statistician, but this information is alarming.  In regard to neighboring counties and townships, many of them do not have “murder maps” because homicides at the rate they are occurring in Philadelphia would be considered an anomaly in those areas.

What conclusions would you draw if you just went according to the data and did not get to really know the people involved, their plights and struggles? (Not that this in anyway justifies the actions of these violent acts)  “Self Destruction” is a classic rap song where KRS One brought together some of the most renown rappers of the late 80s and early 90s for the “Stop the Violence Movement.”  Even though some of the slang terminology utilized in the song and some of the allusions may be dated, this song sadly still reigns true today.  Most people have heard the phrase, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”  Heavy D uses this very same message in his lyrics, “They call us animals mmmm  mmmm I don’t agree with them. I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what you’re proving them.”  I’ve heard people refer to blacks and latinos animals.  There are even teachers who do not think twice about using such a derogatory term.  Perhaps you don’t care about what “they” think, but do you care about your family, friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, etc. who may eventually wind up on their knees praying and mourning the loss of a loved one?  We’re all in this together, or at least we should be.  Don’t let our people, neighborhoods, towns, cities and nations self-destruct!

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Heavy D chose to drop the “g” from the words “sayin” and “prayin” for dialectical and meter  purposes.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #27: I’m Back With Power!!

9 Jul

“Listen, dude, for you that ain’t in the cards
Think the power is in the gun, but over all it’s in your heart


—TI, “I’m Back”
    View Video

TI "I'm Back"TI, aka Clifford Harris, was dubbed the Jay Z of the south, yet has had his share of run-ins with the law and difficulties staying out of trouble. Nevertheless, there’s something special about this guy. Perhaps it’s that we both share the same surname or that my paternal grandparents also hailed from Georgia.  Actually, his profound lyrics and innate “swaggerability” (Yes I just made up a new noun) are two attributes that have made me a follower of his music.  Regardless of what has went on in his personal life, lyrically speaking, this guy is alright with me.

Ironically, TI’s trouble with the authorities has, more times than not, been associated with firearms or artillery charges of some kind, but he elicits a positive reaction from listeners with his lyrics from “I’m Back.”  These in particular lyrics, “Think the power is in the gun, but over all it’s in your heart,” address an issue all too familiar with people living in the inner city and even in rural areas: gun violence.

Even though I’ve never been fond of guns mainly because of the inauthentic power they instill in people who can impulsively take another person’s life within a flash, I do understand why guns have become so prevalent over the years.  Some people carry guns for protection, others carry them with the intention of committing a crime or causing harm, while others simply get an adrenaline rush of power by having guns in their possession and just going to shooting ranges to practice.

However, who are these people without the guns?  What do their hearts reveal?  Is it anxiousness, fear, confusion, desperation, anger or even worthlessness?  Whatever it may be, people must eventually deal with the matters of the heart because that is where the true power begins, and when it comes to violence, let’s hope “for you that ain’t in the cards.” Address those issues first rather than seeking power in an inanimate object that can potentially cause a lifetime of heartache for animated human beings who are passionate about making this world a better place.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
In TI’s profound lyrics, he chooses to omit the pronoun “you” in the second line of his lyrics, “You think the power is in the the gun, but over all it’s in your heart,”  causing the listeners to refer back to the antecedent, “dude” so that they know to whom he is referring.  Also, as a result of TI excluding the pronoun you, this particular line can refer to anyone who believes that the power is in the gun.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #26: Rapping Up Violence

2 Jul

In our community it’s funny how the unity,
it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.
As we move from war to peace
and back again while mothers all cry in the streets
from the gunshots.” 


—Nicolay & Kay, featuring Chip Fu “The Gunshot”

If you’ve never heard this song before, it is a “must hear!” 

Nicolay & KayThe summer is supposed to be a time of fun with people enjoying the weather, going to the beach, the park, enjoying family and friends, vacationing, etc. Sadly, the opposing force to these moments of jubilation is violence which plagues some cities more than others.  According to the homicide statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there have been 159 homicides this year (including July 1, 2011).  Even though it is 21 percent lower than it was in 2007 (the homicide rate was 202 by July 1st), this is still a relatively high number. Actually, from June 1st to July 1st of this year, there have been 37 homicides; that’s more than one per day! (Crime Maps & Stats)

Yes, it is true that many rappers choose to promote and glorify violence, but that is not always their agenda.  Some actually are quite positive and influential in their communities and want to put an end to gun violence or any type of violence for that matter.  One artist in particular who addresses the need to do something about gun violence is Kay, a Houston, Texas rapper who paired up with Nicolay, the ultimate producer extraordinaire from the Netherlands to compose the classic album “Timeline.”  The production of song, “The Gunshot,” featuring Chip Fu, alone is enough to captivate listeners; however, most people would be able to resonate with and enjoy the profound lyrics of Kay as well.

It is unfortunate that many people with whom I have come in contact with can attest to having a direct or indirect experience with gun violence.  My first experience with gun violence was during my senior year of high school where two of my classmates, in separate incidents, were brutally slain.  Kay makes an observation that is unfortunate as well, “In our community it’s funny how the unity…it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.”  Why do many of us wait for violence to strike before we take action?  Why not rally together in masses and take back our neighborhoods from violent offenders rather than have to undergo candle light vigils and teddy bear and balloon shrines for innocent bystanders and children caught in the crossfire?  Can some of these senseless tragedies be prevented with the love and peace from the community to stop the mothers from crying in the streets from the gunshots?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
In order to make a poem or rap more complex and rhythmic, the writer may employ an internal rhyme, which is a rhyme that occurs within the line of verse.  For example,  the word in the middle of the line will rhyme with the ending word in the line.  “In our community it’s funny how the unity, it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.”  In the second line, Kay actually uses assonance, meaning that the rhyme focus is on the vowel sound, specifically “tragedy” and “me.“, rather than the entire words rhyming.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #25: Rappers Need Love Too

25 Jun

“Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.
But I love a whole lot more than I hate about them.
They look good feel good and smell even better,
So why you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?
B word this H bomb that.
And in the midst all of this I wonder where your moms at?
Cause if she ain’t one, then tell me where the hate from.
You just calm down and maybe you can date one. 


—Murs, “Love & Appreciate 2”


MursMurs is by far one of the best lyricists and storyteller style rappers that I’ve heard in a long time.  Even though his hair is a bit much to take in, I love how he does what he wants to do and doesn’t get wrapped up in having the “perfect” image.  On numerous occasions, Murs has paired up with Ninth Wonder, a producer I’d love to work with one day, and released classic albums that belong in any true connoisseur of real hip hop’s collection.

Love and relationships are two themes that have made appearances on most of his albums.   In 2008, Murs included “Love & Appreciate 2” on his album “Murs for President,” which is actually a follow-up to “Love and Appreciate” on his album “Murray’s Revenge,” released in 2006.  In these particular lyrics, Murs speaks not only for himself as a man but for men in general.  We’ve all heard the cliche phrase, “Can’t live with them, can’t live without them;” however, Murs admits that “he loves a whole lot more than he hates about them.”  Men may groan about what their women are doing to aggravate or frustrate them with their male friends occasionally, and women are definitely known for doing the same, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the love and appreciation you have for one another.

However, Murs, does take it a step further by indicating that there does come a point where some men do cross the line with how they treat and interact with their women or women in general.  He juxtaposes the mothers of these men and the women with whom they are involved or wish to be involved and questions how men treat women .  The implications is that women should be treated with the same respect these very same men would give their mothers. Even though Murs is speaking directly to men, this stance also reigns true with women.  I’ve heard women who often refer to men as dogs or bums even when they’ve done nothing to substantiate being referred to as such.  Is this love and appreciation?

It is necessary to not only show love but appreciation for one another, and how can this be done when you use derogatory words to represent the person you are with or would like to be with.  Is it ever acceptable?  Some people may say, “Well, I only say those things to her or him when I’m angry.” I say that it’s never acceptable, even in anger.  In order to have love and appreciation, one must give respect at all times.  Remember, you get what you give, and if you are still in pursuit of that special person, if “you just calm down and maybe you could date one.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Even though I love rap music, if a person was attempting to learn the English language or grammar rules, a rap song would definitely not be the best place to start.  One of the reasons is that several rappers include not just slang but dialects which usually contain blatant grammatical errors throughout their lyrics.  Murs is no exception.  In the following lyrics, Murs has a very common grammatical error which is actually a dialect with the “to be” verb as been dropped from the sentence.  He says,   “So why you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?”  But if this sentence was put into standard English it would say, “So why are you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?”  I love slang and dialects, but keep in mind that there is a time and place for standard and what is considered non standard English, a dialect or vernacular of some kind.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #24: Rappers Need Love Too

18 Jun

“Back when I was nothin
You made a brother feel like he was somethin
That’s why I’m with you to this day boo no frontin


—Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige, “You’re All I Need”

Method ManThe Wu-Tang Clan is one of my favorite rap groups of all time.   These guys were like the “Justice League” of hip hop during the 1990s and 2000s.  Each member has a special power such as lyrical ability, producing skills or just stage presence.  I have always resonated with their grungy, diggin’ in the crates, raw, passionate sound, especially Method Man’s.

Of course, I could not help but think about my affinity for Method’s song “You’re All I Need,” featuring the talented Mary J. Blige, as a meaningful and heartfelt rap “love” song.  What initially draws listeners in is the chorus and sample from the original classic performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell–bridging the gap between past and present generations.  However, instead of selecting the memorable chorus to represent this song, I decided to go with lyrics from the song that echo the importance of being supportive towards one another unconditionally within a relationship.

Most women expect a lot from their men, and men have the right to expect a lot from their women as well.  Nevertheless, from my observation, there appears to be an imbalance.  Oftentimes, most women are willing to give their men the support they need; unfortunately, they are rarely acknowledged by their men for their unyielding encouragement.  In “You’re All I Need,” Method gives praise and appreciates his woman’s actions, “Back when I was nothin you made a brother feel like he was somethin.”

Sadly, I also have  witnessed some women tearing down and even emasculating their good, caring, hard working men.  They utter scathing phrases such as, “You ain’t nothing!” “You can’t do nothing for me” “You’re such a loser,” etc. right in front of family and friends without hesitation.    It’s much easier to be there for somebody who has everything than to be there for a person who is striving to obtain the better things in life and to accomplish concrete goals.  Would you be more indebted to a person who is only there for you when you can give them all that they want or with a person who works with you and supports you even when everything may not go as planned? “That’s why I’m with you to this day boo no frontin.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
It is not uncommon for rap lyrics and many types of creative writing to drop the “ing” sound on a word to demonstrate use a specific type of vernacular or common day speech because it is the voice of the writer or the persona or it has a better flow or sound because of the syllables or meter in the line. In this instance, Method Man drops the “g” from “nothin,” “somethin” and “frontin.”  Also, he uses the all too common slang word “boo”  as a synonym for his “lady.”  Keep in mind that many rappers who are well-versed and considered lyricists tend to familiarize themselves with the standard grammar rules prior to breaking the rules in their lyrics.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #23: Rappers Need Love Too

11 Jun

“I just want you to know
Your whole being is beautiful
I’ma do the best I can do
Cause I’m my best when I’m with you


—Common featuring Mary J. Blige, “Come Close”

I love hip hop music and culture! The raw passion of some of the artists, their lyrical finesse and swagger is what ultimately captivates me.  I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with rap music from the days of Pre-K to present day; however, one attribute has remained constant: the love!

CommonAs I continue my month long tribute of the best rap “love” songs, I must acknowledge that I’ve had a multitude of crushes on different artists, but one that continues to persists is my enamored feelings for Common.   I have been following his career since he appeared in The Source under “Unsigned Hype,” seen him in concert on numerous occasions and am still an avid fan.  It’s not just his urbane look or swagger that attracts me but his humbleness and sincerity that comes across in his lyrics.  Common has released many rap “love” songs over the years, but one that I really resonate with is “Come Close” featuring Mary J. Blige.

Though Common is a strong man, his song displays his gentleness and vulnerabilities as he exhibits the necessity to have a strong woman by his side.  Wow, how often does a rapper do that?  He acknowledges that this woman of interest is not a mind reader by explicitly stating, “I just want you to know your whole being is beautiful.”  Sometimes a woman needs to hear what her man is thinking and not just assume.  Such a statement also helps to make her feel wanted, that is considering that the comment is sincere.  Furthermore, Common does not simply say, “You are beautiful,” but “Your whole being is beautiful.”  When is the last time you complimented someone of were complimented on your whole being not just your looks alone?

In two months I will be starting the chapter of marriage in the book of my life.  Quite frequently people say, a relationship or marriage is a lot hard work and requires dedication and some give and take.  Common also provides some terrific advice by stating, “I’ma do the best that I can do.”  Do people really put forth their best efforts in relationships or just get comfortable…maybe too comfortable over time?

When you “Come Close” to experiencing love or are immersed in it, do you think about what makes your relationship so sacred or special?  Have you thought about what that special person has done or will do for your life?  The media often uses the term “power couple” to describe the hollywood elites, but cannot common day people be power couples.  The ideal situation is to be in a relationship where you both bring out the best in each other.  Can say to the person you’re with, “I’m my best when I’m with you?”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Common often incorporates poetic techniques such as slant and assonance rhymes, and this song is no exception.
“I just want you to know
your whole being is beautiful…”

In this instance, Common uses the “Oh” sound as part of his rhyme.  Some people may argue that this is not a rhyme; nevertheless, this is a common practice among past and present poets and allows that writer to manipulate and play with the language.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #22: Rappers Need Love Too

4 Jun

“When I’m alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall
and in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call
Telling me I need a girl who’s as sweet as a dove
for the first time in my life, I see I need love


—LL Cool J, “I Need Love”


There’s no denying that rap music and rock n’ roll are both synonymous with sex, drugs and money, so it is quite refreshing when a rapper pours his or her heart out on an abstract topic from time to time.  In a little over two months from now, I will be getting married.  With the feelings of love and excitement increasing, I thought, “Why not put together a compilation of some of the best rap love songs of all time?”

LL Cool JOf course, I must start off with a classic from my childhood when I first starting having crushes on boys and thinking about how it would feel to be in love.  Any female who was around during the late 80s who was into rap music more than likely had a crush on LL Cool J, and I was no exception. Enormous posters of him, along with a few of my other crushes, covered  my bedroom wall, and when he released the song, ” I Need Love,” I would often gaze at his pictures totally mesmerized and  fantasize about being the girl in the video.

LL’s song presents a thought-provoking revelation that most people will have at one point or another in their lives.  To begin with “When I’m alone in my room…” may involve some deep meditation.  In 2011, nearly 25 years later, there are a plethora of technology and media outlets to distract us from being pensive and thinking about what we really want and need out of life.  LL is “staring at the wall…” not texting, tweeting, updating his facebook status or checking the status of others.  When is the last time you had some “alone” time to think about what you really want or need in your present or future relationship or life for that matter?  It’s extremely difficult to “hear your conscience call” if there are too many distractions let alone brain chatter.

Even though I am no expert, as a result of being in a long term relationship and observing the relationships of others, I’ve learned that everybody is not looking for the same attributes in a significant other.  Over time, people may even realize that what they previously wanted is not what they presently need in a relationship.

Studies have shown that love is a necessity, and it actually plays a significant role in how healthy people are and even their ability to recover from illnesses.  It does not necessarily have to be romantic love, but being in love, feeling love or even giving love can add years to one’s life. Have you experienced love or being in love?  When is the last time you displayed love to those who matter most in your life?  We all need love!

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
LL Cool J experiences an epiphany in his rap song “I Need Love.”  He proclaims,  “For the first time in my life, I see I need love…”  An epiphany is a moment of sudden revelation or insight.