Local Independent Spotlight III – Chad Eric Smith

You and everyone that you know are in for a treat. I have the privilege to not just know but interview Chad Eric Smith for the third time. His talent mesmerizes me. His performances are textured…layered and his writing and directing, thoughtful, rhythmic and with a splash of hilarity.

I assure you that this giant of a talent will mesmerize you too. Read on…

Hello, hello friend. I am so glad that we are never too far apart to catch up. It’s been¬†sometime between our in-depth conversations and you sure have been busy. ūüôā
Your freshest film, Rumination has been gathering quite the Buzz. Remind us all about this short.

Yes, I am very excited about how well it’s been received at film festivals all over the country.
Rumination is a short sci-fi drama that follows Elliott (Kelvin Drama), a heartbroken man haunted by regret and memories of an ex-girlfriend (Angus Whinfield). He meets Renard (Danny Gavigan), a quirky neuroscientist who offers to alleviate his grief with a new scientific method: a top-secret drug that enables time travel. Check out the third and final teaser trailer here:


So to date, how many screenings has the film had thus far?

Rumination has had seven public screenings thus far: The Reel Independent Film Extravaganza, The Rosebud Film Festival, and Capitol Hill Film Classic in Washington, DC, The Boston SciFi Film Fest, The Northern Virginia International Film & Music Festival (The NOVA Fest), the Maryland International Film Festival, and a special screening at the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center.

I’ve also seen that Rumination has picked up some awards. Tell us about that.

Yes! This year, Rumination won the Rosebud Award for ‚ÄėBest DMV Film‚Äô; ‚ÄėBest Supporting Actor ‚Äď Short Film‚Äô (Danny Gavigan) and ‚ÄėBest Editing – Short Film‚Äô (Kelvin J) at The NOVA Fest; Diamond Awards for ‚ÄėBest Sci-Fi‚Äô at the LA Shorts Awards and the Mindfield Film Festival in Los Angeles; ‚ÄėBest Local Film‚Äô at the Capitol Hill Film Classic; and the Platinum Award for Best Supporting Actor (Special Jury Prize ‚Äď Danny Gavigan), Gold Award for Best Sci-Fi Short, and Gold Award for Best Editing (Kelvin J) at the Independent Shorts Awards.


(Actor Danny Gavigan (Rumination) w/ Director Chad Eric Smith at the 2018 NOVA FEST Awards)

Oh wow! Where can those who have not seen this film see it? Is it available online as well?

Unfortunately, Rumination is not available to the public just yet. Believe it or not, I’m still waiting to hear back from a little over 25 film festivals, with notification dates extending into the fall.

Good for you! I know that the film addresses loss, grief, and depression. In talking with audiences about the film, how much has this subject struck home with them?

Aside from the filmmaking process being personally cathartic, it has also been very gratifying to know just how many people it resonated with it. Just goes to show that universality and specificity go hand-in-hand. At just about every screening we’ve had, audience members tell me that they can relate to the main character’s rumination, which is a form of obsessive thinking in which a person has an uncontrollable preoccupation with the past. Thus, the desire to go back in time to make different decisions, especially with regards to a past romantic relationship, is a relatable sentiment.

Beyond screenings and film festivals, what are your future distribution plans for the piece?

Once the film completes the film festival circuit, I will then determine how and where Rumination will be distributed. The film will most likely be released on an online platform.

Now, you have been responsible for and have been in many other projects. You have a wealth of experience as an actor, writer, and director. Right now, at this moment which of your performances and/or projects has had one of the biggest impacts on you? Can you name just one?

It is hard to name just one! But, I’ll go with my performance in Harold Jackson III’s original web series, Counselor. It’s about Dr. Venahzen, a hardened therapist played by Curtiss Cook (House of Cards), as he struggles to treat David (yours truly), a troubled man who must complete eight counseling sessions as part of a court ruling related to a DUI. The court ordered treatments quickly transform into a scathing examination of addiction and the human psyche. Through unorthodox and sometimes questionable treatment methods, the two realize just how similar they really are. 

Of all the characters I‚Äôve played, David is the greatest departure from who I am in real life and my most complex film role to date. I believe I became a better actor as a result of this project and I’m forever grateful for the experience. Folks can binge watch all eight episodes here:¬†http://tinyurl.com/hb52936



(David in Counselor an original series)

As a writer and director, what sort of topics would you like to address in the future?

As a writer and director, I’m interested in creating a political allegory that deals with the topics of race, White privilege, & respectability politics, something that captures the zeitgeist of the current political era we are living in. In fact, I already have a short screenplay written with that idea in mind and I’m considering producing and directing it this year. I’m also interested in doing some sort of horror mystery, but I’m still in the brainstorming phase though.

Where do your ideas come from? Do you write subjects down as they come to you and come back to them later or do you select a genre first…? What is your process?

Ideas come to me in different ways. Sometimes it‚Äôs like a coup de foudre, a thunderbolt of an idea¬†that is too good not to do. For instance, my directorial debut, Dark Therapy, in which I played a¬†vampire with an irrational fear of blood who seeks psychiatric treatment, was motivated by my¬†desire to play a ‘larger-than-life’ character, with costume and makeup, √† la Johnny Depp and Gary¬†Oldman. I wanted to create and bring to life a character I knew I‚Äôd never be able to audition for.¬†So, the writing process was fast. Dark¬† Therapy can be viewed here: https://goo.gl/joUKAq


(Erebus the vampire in Dark Therapy)

Rumination, on the other hand, was inspired by my own personal experience with grief following a breakup a few years ago, coupled with my love of the time travel genre. In the fall of 2015, I began by writing the film’s most pivotal scene, and then put the script down for about a year. I like to say that I let the script marinate in its own words. I revisited the script in 2016 and the words had a foreignness to them as if they were written by someone else. I was overcome with a new zeal to complete it. I also did lots of research to write the screenplay so that it felt rich. I explored topics like the special theory of relativity, the philosophy of time known as eternalism, the neuroscience of both heartbreak and consciousness, as well as the effects of psychedelic drugs. I hired a crew and shot it over the course of 3 days in the summer of 2017.

So what projects do you currently have brimming?

A feature-length comedy I’m in, entitled An Accidental Zombie РNamed Ted, has secured
distribution and release dates for the U.S. and Canada and are coming soon! In it, I play a werewolf suffering from alopecia. The film stars Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th ), Gary Anthony Williams (The Boondocks), Sandi McCree (The Wire), and many other great actors! We shot it in Ocala, FL and I had so much fun on set! Check out the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywDjnUNH1CM

This year I’ll also be acting in filmmaker Michael DeMasi‚Äôs upcoming feature film Secret Police, in which I‚Äôll be playing a corrupt ambitious government official. This will be my second time working¬†with the director and the plan is to shoot the film in the Boston, MA area sometime this year. We¬†are currently raising money via Kickstarter. Folks can check out our Kickstarter campaign and¬†donate here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/secretpolice/secret-police/

Is lecturing or coaching something that gets you excited? Would you educate aspiring actors and filmmakers? Would you travel to do it? ūüôā

I would absolutely travel to do it! During the past couple of years, I‚Äôve had several public speaking engagements in which I spoke about all that I do and am passionate about. In fact, last year, I traveled to my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, to be the keynote speaker for their ‚ÄúHumanities Day‚ÄĚ. I spoke about the importance of the arts and humanities, diversity, and how exposure to those things fosters empathy. It was a very enjoyable experience and I look¬†forward to booking more speaking engagements in the future.



(Smith speaks at Pitt-Greensburg ‚Äď April 21st, 2017)

What is one thing you would like to say to aspiring actors right now?

I would tell aspiring actors that being an actor is as much about your brand as it is about the craft. And your brand is made up of both what you choose to do and what you choose not to do. Actor David Oyelowo once said, ‚ÄúYou erode your talent by being in things that are lesser than your talent. You are only as good as what you subject yourself to by way of the material, the people you work with, and the parts you accept.‚ÄĚ

I also recommend that aspiring film actors strongly consider performing in theatre at some point. I believe performing on stage in front of a live audience is the best training an actor can receive because it truly is the actor‚Äôs medium. It‚Äôs where the actor has the most control over how he or she portrays a character. With regards to technique, as the late, great comic George Burns once said, ‚ÄúActing is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you‚Äôve got it made.‚ÄĚ

What is one thing you would like to say to aspiring filmmakers right now?

I still consider myself pretty new to filmmaking. However, one thing I’ll say, regarding writing, is that when you have great ideas, make sure you write them down right away so you don’t forget. I’m always typing ideas into my cell phone’s memo pad. It could be a plot idea or a piece of dialogue. These notes come in handy once you begin turning your ideas into screenplays. For directing, I suggest looking at the behind-the-scenes featurettes of your favorite films. That’s a good way to get inspiration for how to execute a scene. Finally, filmmakers should put as much effort into the marketing of their film as they did in pre-production, production, and post. In my opinion, a piece of art is meant to be seen and it takes a lot of hard work just for people to know it exists.

What many may not know is that you are also a talented musician. Please share your life journey with, and love for music?

Yea, I love music! My father, Jonathan Bey, is an EMMY Award-winning producer based in Gainesville, FL and owns the independent record company TrackCrafters. So, my entire childhood allowed me to witness music production up close and personal.



(Jonathan Bey working on Rumination)

My all-time favorite musical artist is Prince. I mean, he was a brilliant songwriter, versatile singer, innovative producer, virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, and a consummate showman. I saw him perform live three times! In fact, in March of 2006, at club Nation (formerly The Capital Ballroom) in Washington DC, I was picked out from the crowd, pulled onto the stage, and shared the microphone with his Purple Highness! He and the late hip-hop producer, J Dilla, are probably my two greatest musical influencers.

I began playing piano by ear during my senior year in high school. By the time I was in college at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, I started a jazz trio called ‚ÄúSoothing Sensations‚ÄĚ (because we made soothing, sensational music) and even composed and performed original jazz and blues-inspired music for Bertolt Brecht’s play, Mother Courage and Her Children, during my junior year. Since then, I occasionally create new music and post it on my SoundCloud. Folks can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/chad-eric-smith.


(Soothing Sensations perform at Pitt-Greensburg Coffee House, circa 2007)

Do you compose original music for your projects? If not, will you?

My father was the film score composer for both Dark Therapy and Rumination. However, in¬†Rumination, I did utilize one song that I produced, arranged, composed and performed entitled¬†‚ÄúKlexos‚ÄĚ. The title means ‘the art of dwelling in the past’; and comes from “The Dictionary of¬†Obscure Sorrows”, a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Listen to ‚ÄĚKlexos‚Ä̬†here:https://soundcloud.com/chad-eric-smith/klexos.


(Photo/Art by Nick Apostolides)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I‚Äôm not sure. I always tell folks, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm catching up to my future self,‚ÄĚ and, while I don‚Äôt know what that entails with regards to my career and personal life, my hope, at the very least, is that I‚Äôm happy. Of course, generally speaking, I plan to continue to tell stories, as an actor, filmmaker, and musician, and anticipate a growing fan base. ¬†

So what would 2018-Chad like to say to 2023-Chad to inspire him to reach ‘5-year-plan’?

I believe in eternalism, a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time (past, present, and future) is equally real. And so, 2023-Chad has already reached the 5-year plan, even as 2018-Chad is still fleshing out the details.


(Photo by Elise Perry)

Beyond being a great talent Chad, you are a remarkable human being. Thank you so much for always being ready to talk with me. Any final words? 

Thank you so much! As always, it was a pleasure chatting with you! I hope your readers get a chance to see Rumination at one of the several upcoming film festival screenings. People can learn more at www.facebook.com/RuminationShortFilm.

For a behind-the-scene look at the film, check out the below featurettes!

Rumination | Featurette: ‘Inside The Mind of Elliott’

Rumination | Featurette: ‘Inside The Mind of Renard’

Follow me on social media, as well:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ActorChadEricSmith

Instagram: @IamChadEricSmith

Twitter: @ChadEricSmith


Local Independent Film Spotlight II – Chad Eric Smith


Growing their craft from strength to strength. That’s what the movers and shakers in local independent film have been up to. Chad Eric Smith is one of those intelligent talents who’s been doing exactly that. I had the opportunity to catch up with him to get the run down on his recent adventures as well as his latest project, where he took up the position behind the camera this time…Well I wouldn’t give it all away just yet but invite you to eavesdrop on our conversation below:

Let’s play catch-up for a bit. Please share a brief overview of your background as an actor, writer, director and producer.

Sure! First of all, it’s a pleasure to chat with you again. I was born and raised in Washington, DC. At a young age, it was clear that I had a knack for storytelling and making people laugh. The idea that I could do it professionally probably occurred at 12 years old, when my grandmother took me to see a play at the Arena Stage in southwest DC. It was my first time seeing a professional stage play and I was mesmerized. She also took me to New York City to see the musical Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway. Those two experiences inspired me to become a stage performer and my mother nurtured that by enrolling me in drama summer camps. Then in High School, I became a member of Children’s National Medical Center’s theater troupe, Teens Against the Spread of AIDS (TASA), which performed all across the city.

When I attended the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, I majored in Psychology. Most people would have assumed I was a Visual and Performing Arts major because, while there, I performed in five stage plays and took acting classes. I went on to perform with the world renowned Kuntu Repertory Theatre, which was part of University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Africana Studies. I also performed on the stage of the New Horizon Theater in Pittsburgh. In 2010, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the African American Council on the Arts awarded me two Onyx Awards for my performances with both companies.

I then began my transition into acting in independent films. Some of my major credits include the superhero comedy Squid Man, the horror mystery thriller The Suffering and the award-winning romantic drama Last Night. In 2015, I starred in Harold Jackson III‚Äôs two-character, critically-acclaimed 8 episode web drama on YouTube entitled Counselor, starring opposite Curtiss Cook (House of Cards). For my performance, I received a 2016 IndieCapitol Award nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor’.

As a filmmaker, in 2014, I co-wrote and starred in my film directorial debut, the short vampire comedy Dark Therapy, in which I received the Gold Peer Award in the “Acting on Camera – Fiction Male” category from the Television, Internet & Video Association of DC (TIVA-DC). In 2015, I co-produced and composed the original score for the silent short film #SeeTheBoy, written and directed by Eulonda Kay Lea, inspired by the shooting of Tamir Rice.

Beyond your most recent project “Rumination”, which I can’t wait to get in to, and your role as writer and director, what other works have you been involved with as an actor recently?

2017 has been very busy! In addition to my television debut in TV One’s season finale of For My Man, I performed in four independent feature films. I played a paramedic in Nothing To Do, written and directed by Mike Kravinsky, a wife-stealing friend in Nothing From Something, written and directed by Chris Perillo, a convict in The Meek, written & directed by Harold Jackson III, and a werewolf suffering with alopecia in An Accidental Zombie (Named Ted), written & directed by Anne Welles.

Well, let’s get down to “Rumination” of which I had the privilege to view the rough cut. What is the genesis of this story? What brought it about? What is the film all about?

Rumination is about a heartbroken man who travels into the past for a second chance at a failed relationship. It was inspired by my own a personal experience with grief following a breakup.

What was the writing process like? Did the pieces all fall together at once or did it evolve gradually?

The writing process evolved gradually. I started writing the script for Rumination in October of 2015 as a creative way to cathartically deal with the grief I was experiencing at the time. During a visit with a therapist, I came across the word ‚ÄúRumination‚ÄĚ while reading a pamphlet about anxiety and depression. The word, which was unfamiliar, struck me as being a great title for a movie. I looked up the word and saw that it was defined by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the late professor of psychology at Yale University, as “compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions”. So, I began writing the script based on that idea, coupled with my personal experience. My method consisted of treating the script like a journal, having the main character, Elliott, experience and say things that were personally true at the time I wrote it. I put the writing process on hold for about a year; I let it marinate in its own words. Then, in late 2016, I returned to the script after being inspired by the FX series Atlanta, the science fiction television anthology series Black Mirror, and the psychological thriller Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele. They gave me the confidence to complete and direct my film. Plus, by this point, I had come a long way in my own healing and could turn what was personal into a universal story many people could relate to: the desire to travel back in time to set something right or make better decisions. I researched information about the neuroscience of heartbreak, as well as the concept of eternalism, the philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all points in time are equally real.

20170813_221705 (1)

When you arrived at the shooting phase of the project, what was the casting process like? Were there particular specifics that were non-negotiable?

At first, I considered playing the main character since I could so easily relate to him. Then, I decided I didn‚Äôt want to memorialize myself on film replaying emotions I had worked so hard to move past. Since I starred in my directorial debut, Dark Therapy, I wanted to experience filmmaking solely behind the camera. I came across actor Kelvin Drama on Facebook. I saw a video of him doing a monologue and was impressed with his sincerity. I reached out to him over a year ago to gauge his interest in playing Elliott and he jumped at the opportunity. Angus Whinfield played Elliott‚Äôs girlfriend, and Danny Gavigan played the quirky neuroscientist, Renard. Both were serendipitously cast in the film. Back in March of this year, I participated in a table read for Harold Jackson III‚Äôs ‚ÄúThe Meek‚ÄĚ and Danny was there, reading as the film‚Äôs antagonist. I knew Danny was an excellent actor and, as I watched him, it dawned on me that he‚Äôd be perfect for my film because of his wide range. I pitched the idea to him and he enthusiastically agreed to play the role of the quirky neuroscientist. Suddenly, while at the same table read, I saw Angus outside the glass door. She was there for a different reason. She and I had performed in an indie film together entitled Secret City Bluz. After running into Angus, it was clear to me she‚Äôd be perfect for the film. I emailed her the script and she came onboard soon after reading it. For the cast, there weren‚Äôt any non-negotiables. As an actor, I know what it feels like to have a director try to micromanage my performance. It makes me feel like they don‚Äôt trust my instincts. So, I trusted my actors‚Äô choices, as long as they were hitting all of the emotional notes that were necessary.


The acting performances were complimentary to the story in my opinion. What was your directing experience like? What did it take to bring out the sort of emotions, inflections, expressions etc that you were looking for from your actors?

On behalf of my actors, thank you! The script isn‚Äôt very long but it was nice to hear actors, other than myself, speak my written words. We had two table reads: one for Kelvin and Angus and another for Kelvin and Danny. Closer to the time of production, Kelvin rehearsed with both Angus and Danny for their respective scenes. To bring out the sort of emotions I wanted to convey, I expressed to Kelvin many of the details from my own experience with heartbreak. He told me that Elliott was one of the most difficult characters he had to portray. He did a lot of research on depression, loneliness & torture. We also talked a lot about pulling inspiration from Will Smith‚Äôs performance in Seven Pounds, which deals with grief. For Angus, it was about exhibiting haunting grace and beauty, which helps explain, at least some of the reason, why Elliott misses her so much. For Danny, he had clear ideas right away about how he wanted to play Renard. From the get-go, he expressed that his character would be ‚Äúvery direct, clinical and over-exuberant¬†about his work.‚ÄĚ We also talked a little bit about drawing from Brad Pitt‚Äôs performance in 12 Monkeys as inspiration. There‚Äôs more ideas about his character but I don‚Äôt want to give too much away.


The center of the theme or story may have had the opportunity to travel over in to the somber side and get stuck there, but comedy is lightly woven in to it. Was this decided from the film’s inception?

Yup! No matter how serious I get, my sense of humor is never far away. Since the beginning of the writing process, I decided to have humorous pieces of dialogue that contrasted with the rest of the film’s darker tone. Just like in my film Dark Therapy, I enjoy telling stories that are multifaceted in its tone.

Please talk about the cinematic feel of the piece. Some shots were reminiscent of Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane. What was your intention for the shot compositions, editing etc.

Cinematically, I was influenced by Black Mirror and movies like Christopher Nolan’s Inception, as well as an array of time travel flicks. I chose to shoot the film using mostly natural lighting and selected cinematographer Andy Evans based on his experience doing just that. I talked to him about how much I liked the look of Alejandro G. I√Ī√°rritu‚Äôs film, The Revenant.

In post-production, I emphasized to my editor, Kelvin J., the type of films I was influenced by. We discussed the symbolism behind the color choices for the look of the film. Kelvin was also my production sound mixer/boom operator. He was able to watch the actors’ performances in person, which I believe makes it much easier for an editor to do his or her job effectively.

The music is also a very important part of my film. My father, Jonathan Bey, is an Emmy award-winning music producer and composed the film’s original score. For Rumination, I directed him to create a score that had binaural beats and isochronic tones, similar to meditation music. Since I was telling a story that involved the topic of consciousness, I thought it would be cool to have a score that included subtle auditory illusions that synced up with the audience’s brainwaves. I wanted to play with the audience’s eyes, ears and everything in between, in order for them to be immersed into Elliott’s world.

What are your short-term distribution plans for this project? (Give as much detail as possible including how audiences can see the film in the near future.

My short term plan is to submit Rumination to as many film festivals across the nation that I can afford. Rumination will have its world premiere at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at 7pm at the Angelika Pop Up Union Market (550 Penn St NE Washington DC 20002). Tickets can be purchased at: https://filmfreeway.com/festival/ReelIndependentFilmExtravaganza/tickets

There will also be a screening and Q&A at the Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center on October 28th, 2017 at 6:30pm.

What are your expectations for the piece in the long-term?

I’m in the early writing stage of expanding upon the story in a creative way. Folks will have to just stay tuned.

What do you want viewers to come away with when they watch this short-film?

At the heart of my story is the theme of grief, and how the multifaceted response to loss can be very difficult, sometimes eliciting rash decisions out of desperation. Whether it be from losing someone you love due to death or a relationship ending, the emotions can feel exactly the same. The five stages of grief and mourning are universal, and don‚Äôt necessarily occur in any specific order. The audience will have to discern whether or not Elliott grieved in a manner that was advantageous. However, the process of making my film was a constructive example of how one can cathartically turn pain into art. French visual artist Annette Messager once said, ‚ÄúBeing an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time endlessly exposing them.‚ÄĚ That is exactly what I did through the making of this film and I hope viewers are both entertained and inspired.

So what is next for Chad Eric Smith?

Well, all the films I mentioned that I acted in this year will be coming out over the course of the coming months. So that’s exciting! Hopefully, Rumination will be screened at film festivals all over the country and even the world. Stay tuned!

Is there anything else that you’re bursting to tell us that may not have been mentioned before?

I just want to say thank you again for taking the time to talk to me about my film. I encourage folks to ‚ÄúLike‚ÄĚ the fan page for Rumination at http://www.facebook.com/RuminationShortFilm in order to stay up to date with all the breaking news. Also, fans can see what else I have going on by following my personal page at http://www.facebook.com/ActorChadEricSmith, my Instagram @IamChadEricSmith and Twitter @ChadEricSmith.




Starting again…

What does that look like?

Is it a good thing?

Is it bad?

Starting again can absolutely be necessary.

Starting again can be taboo.

Would you?

Sometimes it’s the apples, or oranges, that life throws.

Sometimes it is the kick in the pants that one needs.

Whatever the reason, starting again can rejuvenate.

Starting again can re-claim one’s youth.

It’s all in how it’s perceived.

It’s all in how willing one is to risk pride, fear, and all that heavy mental junk.

Throw caution to the wind, start again.

Throw primitive and binding notions out the window…with the “bath water”.

If necessary, start again.

Become the new, improved upgrade of yourself.


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Learning Anew: An Excerpt VI

“Okay, so I know that this may sound crazy.” His eyes dropped to his shoes and a light¬†escaped from them.¬†“Maybe just a little.”¬†A loose chuckle¬†rolled¬†out of his belly. Johan tried to sound casual¬†though¬†he’d rehearsed this speech¬†several times over¬†in his head.¬†Aniya peered at him, teeth¬†gritted under her pressed lips.¬†Johan’s lashes¬†fluttered. Aniya didn’t make it easy for him but¬†he had to get¬†his words¬†out. “But this isn’t just lip service. You’ve earned every¬†single advance here.”

Aniya was silent. She allowed his words to sink in while she¬†bore her eyes into¬†Johan’s deep set green windows¬†to his soul.¬†She stared searching. Searching for truth. Searching for answers. Eventually she spoke. “Thank you. I should really get back to preparing¬†that report for your fath…for Mr. Steinberg Sr. Excuse me.” Aniya spun around easily¬†and quickly. One foot after the¬†other,¬†aiming for the door. Suddenly she heard footsteps behind her and she¬†could feel¬†Johan’s soft, warm¬†breath on her neck. “One more thing. Am I forgiven?”

Time seemed to¬†come to a screeching halt. Aniya¬†reversed her direction¬†slowly. She was face¬†to face with¬†Johan again. Even¬†closer this time.¬†Her round bright brown eyes¬†grew, and grew¬†till it formed¬†a small¬†protruding, shiny¬†bulge. “Please Mr. Steinberg. Please.”¬†

Johan’s throat¬†tightened. His heart¬†drummed an energetic rhythm. He raised his hand in an attempt to cover it. Not again! He swore that his heart¬†was on fire. He wanted to take her hand. He wanted to say he only wanted what was best for her. Instead he heard the¬†soft, pleading tone of her voice. “I love this job too much.” She whipped around again and reached for the door handle.¬†Aniya¬†shot through the exit with force.

Johan was tempted to follow her. Tempted to spew every last detail¬†lodged in¬†his heart. But he couldn’t. Not¬†yet¬†anyway. There was too much at stake.

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Learning Anew: Excerpt V

Aniya stared at her lap for two more seconds¬†before she¬†raised her head tentatively. She peered into Susan’s bright blue eyes trying to find the correct words to utter to her supervisor, and mentor.¬†She doesn’t want to appear ungrateful but the confused mess of turmoil building up inside her made her sift through every word screaming¬†at her.

Aniya finally broke her silence.

“Ahem. Susan…Susan I…I really appreciate everything you’ve taught me. Everything that I get to do here…” Aniya sucked in a thick breath. “But…was it…was it because of your¬†relationship to the…”

Susan¬†couldn’t allow her to go any further. She took¬†a gigantic step¬†forward and met Aniya at the edge of her simple but elegant office desk. Using the desk to prop her¬†up at¬†the rear,¬†Susan leaned down toward¬†Aniya and offered her firm but kind words.

“Aniya, every¬†move you’ve¬†made forward, since¬†starting¬†here, has been on your own merit. Entirely.” Susan slipped the tip of her fore finger under Aniya’s chin and raised it gently. “Don’t go getting any strange¬†thoughts in that pretty head of yours¬†about your promotion. You¬†earned it. Earned it all on your own.”

Susan tilted her head to the side studying Aniya to determine whether her words had registered. “Got it, Aniya?”

Aniya vacated her own¬†blank stare and returned to the present. “I get it.”¬†Her voice was cold-without emotion.¬†Without enthusiasm. She turned to look out the large wall of windows. “I think.” She muttered softly.

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Learning Anew: An Excerpt IV

A belly laugh tumbled out of her stomach. For some reason Johan’s words¬†amused Aniya to the point of¬†causing¬†her¬†to fold over¬†at her stomach-laughing.¬†It took her all of two minutes before she could compose¬†herself.

“I’m sorry.” Sarcasm oozed out of her veins. “Um, because you’re¬†the head honcho you think that it’s okay that you lied to me?” If the daggers shooting out of her eyes were real Johan would¬†already been dead. He took a tentative step toward her. Aniya stepped backward. Johan remained put.

“Aniya, I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention to lie…”¬†Resembling a traffic cop, Aniya¬†raised her hand up¬†to stop him.

“I really don’t want to…I can’t.” She pressed her lips tightly together.¬†“I have to get back to work. If that’s alright with you?”¬†The sarcasm was back in all its glory. Johan’s eyes were half filled with¬†regret and half filled with fear. Fear of losing Aniya forever.

“Aniya please. Please let me explain. It’s all on me. It’s all on me if you’re late getting back to work.” Johan kept his¬†voice low, and his tone even. Aniya however, was poised to rush past him like a NFL offense player.

“I have work to do. Unlike you I don’t have¬†the luxury¬†of playing games.” She began her stampede forward. Johan¬†planted himself¬†in her path, attempting¬†to block her. Aniya stopped dead in her tracks.¬†Seemingly in slow motion, she raised her head and glared into Johan’s forest green eyes then allowed herself to¬†gaze further up at¬†the strands of dark brown hair¬†framing his forehead. Suddenly she shook her head, vigorously. Those images had to be expelled immediately.¬†He¬†had to remain the ogre she only saw him as now.¬†“Mr. Steinberg, seriously, I really¬†need to¬†get back to work.”

Johan hadn’t heard a word Aniya said. Not really anyway. He was lost in her russet brown almond eyes and the strand of unruly curly hair hanging over her right ear, that had gotten loose from her high puff-ponytail. “Mr. Steinberg!” Johan snapped to attention.

“Huh?” He swallowed hard to hide his embarrassment. “You know, Johan works just fine.”

Aniya sucked in an enormous breath through her nose and¬†let it out forcibly as though she inhaled fire instead¬†of air. She¬†moved quickly. She¬†maneuvered around¬†Johan. Who knew she was so agile. So much more I have to learn about her. Johan¬†swiveled around and¬†tried to reach¬†Aniya¬†before she crossed the¬†office door’s threshold. “Aniya…” He called out but she was already¬†through the door¬†interweaving among¬†the people-traffic on the floor.

Johan sheepishly looked at the passerbys and shrinked back into his office.¬† He shut the door and leaned aginast it. “Okay…okay, so she’s quick. I’ve got to find a way…a way to make her hear me.”

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Learning Anew – An Excerpt III

“I don’t know Johan, you’re playing this really…really too close to the vest. What happens when Aniya finds out who you are?” Susan¬†pressed her palms against her castle pine wooden¬†desk, leaned over and hoisted herself above her cousin who pretended not to listen to her. He just¬†sat, fiddled with a pen in between his fingers, and¬†stared out the high rise office windows.

“Why don’t you let me worry about how close I’m playing things and you worry about being a good supervisor. huh?” Johan finally turned and flashed Susan a wide grin. But his boyish grin didn’t move her one bit. Well except to stand right in front of him and block any further distraction from the stunning sunlight, and¬†magnificent clouds forming outside the windows.

“Look Johan, this all started innocently enough. You wandered downstairs¬†to¬†check things out and one look and you were instantly distracted, like you always¬†are¬†by new and shiny things. You…”

Johan jumped to his feet. This time it was him hoisted above the woman he’s known as more like an older sister than a cousin his entire life. “She’s not a ‘shiny thing’! It’s not like that Suze. I…I…” He felt something move in his stomach. What the heck? Was the ever cerebral, barely emotional Johan experiencing butterflies?¬†“I swear.”¬†His arms dropped limp at his side.

She gasped. She could see the vulnerability in his eyes. Johan gently maneuvered his way around Susan and stood beside the wall covered with windows.

Susan¬†made her own¬†graceful move¬†and joined him. “So tell me. Tell me what it’s like. I’m all ears.”

Johan¬†looked away from the¬†arresting scene happening outside the window¬†and¬†curled his¬†lips into a slow smile. “How much time do you have?”

“For you?” Susan tilted her eyes toward the¬†international clocks¬†adorning the wall across from the array of¬†windows “30 minutes, until my next meeting.”

Laughter filled the space between them.

To Be Continued…




Learning Anew – An Excerpt II

Sir, are you sure about this? I don’t think…” Andrew was immediately cut off. A voice boomed¬†across from him.¬†“We’ve talked about this – repeatedly I¬†might add.¬†I know what I’m doing. The staff on the ‘ground floor’ have never seen me so…so I’ll be alright. Andrew I swear, you worry too much dude.”

Andrew’s eyes widened, he¬†still can’t quite¬†get used to his boss’ casual demeanor . Well, technically his boss.¬†He shook his head and¬†went in¬†for the kill to try to persuade the young millionaire that he is going down a very¬†wrong path.

“Sir, what happens when she finds out who you really¬†are?” Johan finally spun around from packing his gym bag. He gently¬†stepped into Andrew’s space with a smirk painted¬†across his lips.

“Will you¬†cut out the “Sir-bit”. It’s ¬†Johan.” He paused. “But ah,¬†Joe…Joe in front of my ‘co-workers'”¬†A full smile formed on his face. He spun around¬†and¬†returned his undivided attention to his gym bag .

Behind him, Andrew forced his lips¬†together. Tight. He is making a huge fool of himself and I will have to clean up all¬†the mess. “Ahem. Sir…I mean Jo…Jo-han all I’m saying is pretending is never good…”

Johan was all set. He strapped the bag across his chest, stepped up to Andrew and¬†gave him two soft taps on his left shoulder¬†then looked up at his towering assistant. “You worry way too much Andy.¬†I got this.” Johan took two steps toward the door, then¬†pivoted toward Andrew again. “It will be all good man. Trust me. You’ll see. Now I have a company ball game to pitch in.” Johan winked and shot out the door like lighting.

To Be Continued…

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Learning Anew – An Excerpt

“You’re not serious. What are you doing here?” Her eyes were the size of tennis balls and her jaw dropped to her chest.¬†Instead of being turned off he¬†matched the¬†disgusted¬†look on her¬†face¬†with a warm smile, and eyes that glistened at the sight of her.

“I’m very serious. You need me…you need me here.” His face was beaming now. She however, rolled her eyes, turned around¬†and continued adding cans to the shelf. “Like I need a heart attack?” She threw back over her shoulder.

“Oh come on. Don’t be like that.” He took a few steps toward her. She immediately sensed his presence¬†drawing nearer and jumped off her step stool to confront him. “Listen buddy…” She¬†spitted out¬†sarcastically. “I am good. Good getting things done, and better off doing it alone.”

He bowed his head in an attempt to hide the chuckle that was bursting out of him. “How is a little help going to hurt?”¬†He eventually offered.¬†She glared at him with eyes so wide¬†they¬†could potentially suck him in at any moment. “Hurt? Um…I just don’t…don’t need it! That’s all!” He drew in a long breath before offering his feedback.

“Maybe you don’t realize it? Maybe…” Before he could go on, she jumped back on to the step stool and¬†started working again. “You just don’t get it.” She muttered as she stretched her arm upward and across.

“Ah, what was that?” He pretended he didn’t hear her precisely.

“I’m sure you have better things to do. I’m good here.” She quipped then jumped down again and headed deeper into the storage area to a back room.

With a silly grin painted on his¬†face, he¬†followed after her…

To Be Continued…

heart shape love bandage hurt


Messages From Beyond The Moon II: Get Ready For The Joy…

Hey,¬†You’re back!

So you’ve decided to believe that I want to be smack in the middle of everything concerning you huh?

You believe that I will, and can do whatever needs to be done to get you to where I have already predesigned for you to be.

Okay then.

See the big smile on my face?

Faith gets me excited.

Get ready for a big old belly laugh next.

Wait. You didn’t know that I smile…even laugh?

Where do you think Joy came from in the first place?

Your level of Joy, even happiness, is very important to me by the way.

Let me help you get…and stay there.

Enough for each day.

Joy when¬†life feels like an uphill climb and you¬†don’t even¬†feel like faking a smile.

Let me help you get…and stay there.

Joy when everything around you is crashing to the ground and too many voices are too loud to decipher.

Let me help you get…and stay there.

You see, you need Joy.

Joy¬†isn’t fickle. Joy can take a hit.

Happiness is all good. It’s cool too.¬†But it tends to rely on circumstances to show up.

Joy runs deep. Very deep.

Joy can bench-press happiness and some more stuff.

Oh Joy…Joy carries the strength to take the next step though your feet feel like clay.

You’ll find it-Joy-when you draw near and just sit…sit with Me.

Sit and talk. Sit and sing Me¬†a tune. I’ll sing one back you know?

Just sit with Me a while. I will give you Joy. Joy will give you strength, and you will be able to go on.

You will be able to step over, leap across and win. Win at life.

Sit with Me a while and get ready for the Joy.


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Messages From Beyond The Moon I: I’m All In It…

Hey you.

Yes, you.

I’ve been thinking about you.

Oh, you didn’t realize that I think about you? Well, it’s¬†like all the time.

I think about how you try to be the picture of perfection working to hold everything together. Trying to prove your strength.

I think about¬†your late night¬†cries cause you think no one¬†gets you…really gets you.

No one but Me.

I think about your desires to reach for the stars, that sometimes gets clouded by mists of anxiety.

I think about so much when it comes to you. But what I have been thinking about a lot lately is getting you too see and fully embrace just how much I want to walk through life with you.

How much I want to be in the midst of whatever you’re dealing with, working towards, or fighting against-inwardly or outwardly-to get you¬†to where you’re supposed to be.

To get you to¬†a¬†sweet place of rest where you don’t just step forward¬†but you soar.

Hey you. I’m closer than you think.

I’m all up in everything concerning you.

What you got? Bring it on. I can handle it.

Emotional? Physical? Financial? I got this. Seriously, I do!

Lay it on me. The whole gigantic pile of mess.

Let’s walk through it together.

And when you look into the mirror and everything isn’t picture perfect, please don’t be hard on yourself.

It’s a process you know?

Yeah. It. Is.

Even if you think you should be beyond this point. It is a process.

Lighten up.

Lean on me, and lighten up.

So what you got? I’m all in it.


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Life Passages XXIV – Reality Check

“I’m not sure¬†about this Devon. About being here.” Madeleine spoke in hush tones leaned in close to Devon’s ear. They¬†warmed¬†a couch¬†at the edge of the room of Emmanuel’s parents basement. Emmanuel got the Agape youth group together for the monthly game night.¬†Devon managed to¬†convince¬†Madeleine to join him and Samantha there, but he wasn’t as successful¬† with getting her to take part¬†in any of the activities that was happening¬†in the center of the room.¬†Devon turned toward¬†Madeleine only slightly. His eyes¬†remained¬†fixed on the¬†intrigue¬†encircling the friendly card¬†game across the room. “Why not Mads?¬†Don’t you like to have fun?” He whispered¬†near her¬†ear¬†jokingly.

Madeleine’s eyes¬†shot¬†back and forth nervously¬†“I do…I do like to have fun but…but this isn’t my…” Madeleine’s words were broken in to by the shadow¬†of a medium built,¬†tall¬†Emmanuel,¬†trimmed with¬†perfectly groomed facial hair. “Madeleine, right?” Madeleine’s head rose slowly, her apprehensive eyes¬†cast on Emmanuel’s¬†olive face. “Um…me? Ahem…Yes…ah yes I’m Madeleine.” Emmanuel’s smile was close to igniting the¬†basement. His left¬†hand quickly rose¬†to¬†motion a¬†wave.¬†“Hey Madeleine. I’m Emmanuel. Finally a proper introduction.” He chuckled and shot Devon a playful look but Devon¬†was not so playful in that moment.¬†“So, there’s a game of Pictionary¬†that’s about to get started and¬†it has your name all over it¬†Madeleine.” His grin was infectious and Madeleine was affected. Her lips¬†slowly curled upward. “Pictionary? Me?” Her¬†mouth grew a full smile now.

Devon looked on, guarded. His eyes¬†closely mapped the evolution of the¬†dialogue¬†taking place¬†next to¬†him.¬†A splash of¬†agitation filled his eyes. “Mads you know…you know you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”¬†If ever there was¬†the award for the best¬†poker face of the year, Devon¬†would be nominated for trying terribly hard to wear¬†one just then. Emmanuel on the other hand remained a beacon of joy. It shouldn’t be possible but it¬†appeared that his¬†grin became even larger. “He’s right Madeleine. It’s up to you. But I¬†have a strange feeling this is your game.” Madeleine was blinded by Emmanuel’s smile and she¬†couldn’t help but form a larger one herself. She took a break from absorbing Emmanuel’s light¬†to¬†look at Devon. She couldn’t find any true identifiable expression there so she took a few more¬†moments to read his face more closely.¬†Soon she gave up, drew¬†a deep breath then returned her attention to Emmanuel. Is¬†this guy¬†always this happy?¬†Always this…this…I guess, nice?¬†She chuckled softly and¬†glanced at Devon again. Well Devon wants me to have fun, so what the heck!

“I’m in.” Madeleine¬†locked eyes with¬†Emmanuel. He reached for her hand¬† “Partners then, Madeleine?”¬†She allowed him to take it and stood. “Alright.” Madeleine walked away leaving Devon on his feet,¬†dumbfounded. His wide eyes bounced from Madeleine’s hand in Emmanuel’s to them meeting up with the rest of the Pictionary players, and Emmanuel making the introductions. Suddenly Samantha appeared next to Devon. She slapped him on the shoulder. “See? I told you Devon. This is what she needed.” Devon’s head slowly swiveled toward Samantha. He gazed at her speechless, for a long thirty seconds – or so¬† – before responding.¬†“Um…ah…I guess…I guess so?” His voice trailed off into a whisper before¬†Devon turned again¬†to¬†fix his stare on Madeleine and Emmanuel. Okay Lord. We need to talk.

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Life Passages XXIII – Truth Outspoken

“Devon this important!” Devon circled Samantha, each arm loaded up with boxes containing paraphernalia to re-stock the shelves at his¬†Grandpa Solomon’s eclectic book and comic store. “Devon. Did you hear me? ”

Devon¬†allowed one box to slip to¬†the floor then laid the others down. He began unloading them but¬†he still had not given Samantha any eye contact, though very aware of her presence. “Sam, I hear you. Really.” A soft chuckle levitated¬†from his gut to his lips. “You do see that I am busy here, right?” Devon emptied his other arm and stood straight, facing Samantha with a playful grin. “What’s so urgent sista?”

“It’s Mads…I mean Madeleine…I don’t know. She doesn’t seem to care for me…We were shopping…she stomped off…” Samantha rattled on, pulling from her memory rapidly while trying to paint Devon an accurate picture. Devon’s eyes darted back and forth, and up and down trying to keep track with-what he interrupted as Samantha’s gibberish-and her energetic gestures. “Whoa! Slow down already. What the heck are you talking about?”

Samantha dropped to the wooden floor of the antiquated shop and crossed her legs. Devon’s eyes¬†dropped down with her and began to fill with concern. Soon Devon was on the floor facing Samantha¬†and sitting crossed legged like she was. “Okay Sam. Take a good deep breath and try again.” Samantha nodded at Devon then sat as straight as a needle to suck in a long hollow breath.

Samantha released it slowly. “Okay. So I asked Madeleine to go shopping with me today. I thought it would be good for her…” Devon spitted out a raucous laugh. “Good for her, or for you Sam? You d0 have a weakness you know.” Samantha was not amused by the comment.

“Not now Devon. Seriously.” Samantha’s eyes burrowed into Devon, almost burning right through his own. His shoulders tensed then straightened. Lighthearted Samantha was clearly burdened with¬†her message. He leaned in again and¬†dug his elbows into his crossed thighs. “Okay Sam. I’m all ears. What happened?”

A¬†light puff of air slowly emitted from her nose and Samantha allowed herself to smile. Just a little. “Okay. So. I really thought Madeleine needed a friend…” Devon’s eyes¬†grew to the size of¬†tennis balls. Well¬†almost. Samantha couldn’t¬†hide the giggle that launched from her body. “Don’t be like that Devon.” Samantha pressed her lips together, puckered them out, then cocked her head to one side. “You don’t get to have¬†absolute claim on¬† Madeleine you know. Especially when…” Samantha leaned back and contemplated her next words. Devon stared at her,¬†anticipating the content of the thoughts churning¬†in her head.

“Especially when what Sam? Just say it.” Devon leaned into Samantha’s personal space anxious to¬†know her thoughts. She leaned¬†away from him even further. “Okay. Okay. Chill a second. I’m not sure you’re ready to hear this.” Devon’s arms flew half-way¬†into the air. “What?¬†What does that mean?¬†Isn’t this about Mads?”

Samantha fidgeted, adjusting her seating on the¬†book store floor. She needed to be absolutely comfortable to deliver her next line. “Um…ahem…Devon…Devon I think you¬†need to¬†be very¬†careful with Madeleine. She’s had¬†enough¬†happen to her. She doesn’t need you¬†confusing her.”

Devon’s wide eyes matched his gapped mouth. “Wha…Serious…Samantha, are you for real? Confusing Mads?¬†Me? How?” Samantha gave Devon the¬†head tilt, puckered lips, complemented with piercing eyes this time. She looked at him. Staring. Bearing into his soul until she was satisfied that his heart was suitably¬†prepared for her next round of¬†candid deductions. “Devon, you’ve done a good thing. You’ve befriended someone who…who it looks like had given up on¬†people. But you’ve got to be careful. Don’t ‘dine and dash’…”

Devon¬†raised one hand and put¬†his palm up near Samantha’s face. “Wait. Stop. Stop¬†the madness. ‘dine and dash’? When have I done that?” Devon shook his¬†head violently trying to make Samantha’s words make sense.

She reached over and gently placed¬†her hand on Devon’s arm. “Calm down. All I’m saying is, be a friend. We’ve been just that for years. But if you’re thinking of being anything else…” Samantha¬†¬†paused and took in a sharp breath. “…Madeleine can’t handle anymore disappointments, at the very least. Please be careful.”

Devon sat back, firmly¬†on his tail bone. He crossed his arms and looked down at the polished wooden floor his grandfather waxed twice a week. His eyes¬†traced every crease and crevice. Samantha sat patiently across from her friend, allowing him to mull over her words. Eventually Devon inhaled deeply¬†then spoke. “Thanks Sam. I hear ya. I haven’t really thought about it to be honest, but I could tell…Well, I could tell she has a story.” Samantha nodded in agreement but doesn’t interject.

Devon slapped¬†his thigh and laughed. “I can bet on you being brutally honest with me.” His smile fell off and¬†a¬†pensive expression¬†took its place.¬†“I am certainly going to pray about all of it.”

Samantha grinned and jumped to her feet. “Good! Cause¬†there’s a real, live, breakable¬†heart at stake here.” Devon¬†was right behind her and on his feet too.¬†His lips formed a¬†warm smile. “Got it Sam!” Samantha smiled back and turned her attention to the boxes near Devon’s feet. “Need help?”¬† she asked.¬†“Girl, do I? Come on.” Laughter exploded between them and they got to work.

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Life Passages XXII – It Runs Deep

“What about this one?” Samantha pointed to a bright fuchsia dress with thick straps that wrapped over the front, with an¬†uneven hem.¬†¬†1-2-3-4—15 seconds later, Samantha still ¬†heard¬†no response. She turned her head in the opposite direction to face Madeleine and noted¬†her gapped¬†mouth, matching her wide-set stare. “What. What is it? You don’t like it?” rolled off Samantha’s tongue in rapid succession. She was¬†fearful that she hadn’t gotten Madeleine’s approval.

Madeleine’s lips slowly¬†came together and clasped close. Why does she even care what I think? She would look stunning in a paper bag. And why…why did she even ask¬†me to come shopping with her?¬†Madeleine eventually managed to¬†forge a smile. “Ah…ah it’s pretty. I’m sure you…” Madeleine scratched the left¬†edge of her forehead. “I’m sorry. Why do you even¬†care what I think again?”

Madeleine’s¬†honesty near toppled¬†Samantha over¬†and it¬†shone through her eyes. “Wha…what do you mean why do I care?” Samantha swung the dress over her arm and slammed her hand against her hip. “Mads…” Madeleine’s eyes grew as large as dinner plates. No one other than Devon had called her that before. Well her parents on occasion¬†but no one outside her home, and certainly not¬†Samantha. Um, what did she call me?

Samantha broke into Madeleine’s thoughts. “Look Mads,¬†are we cool? I thought we were cool.” Madeleine nodded. She actually¬†appreciated Samantha being¬†candid with her. “We’re cool. I mean, I am cool…being here is cool but…” Samantha was ready to get¬†down to the crux of the matter. “Well what is it then?” she discharged anxiously. Madeleine swallowed so hard her¬†larynx¬†almost slid down into¬†her stomach.¬†¬†“Samantha, why exactly did you ask me to come shopping with you?” Madeleine took a half step back and with both hands¬†pointed to her jeans, graphic t-shirt and¬†generic¬†grey and white running shoes. “I mean, I’m not exactly a fashionista.” Samantha began to chuckle then¬†released a full belly laugh. What the heck? Madeleine looked around embarrassed¬†about the commotion she was partly responsible for.

“What’s so funny Samantha?” Madeleine tried her best to whisper under the circumstances but it was a pure waste of time. Samantha couldn’t hear a thing over her own¬†outpour of cackles. Madeleine’s face felt warm and began to turn a light shade of red. “I don’t think it’s very ‘Christian’ of you to laugh at the way I dress!” Samantha almost choked on her last snicker. “Ahem.” Samantha smiled, grabbed hold of Madeleine’s wrist and pulled her back toward the changing rooms. She frantically found one and hurriedly ushered Madeleine into it. Once¬†they were in, Madeleine turned and looked at Samantha as though she was captured by a crazed serial killer. “What on God’s green earth is going on with you Sam…” Samantha put her both arms up in the air. “Hang on, hang on. I’m not crazy.” Samantha lit up the room with a wide grin. “Crazy fun, yes! But not just crazy.”

Madeleine didn’t see the humor in any of it. Instead, she was part angry and part scared¬†“So what’s this all about?” Samantha allowed her face to settle into a sweet smile for a short moment then¬†she took a deep breath. “Madeleine, I asked you to come shopping with me cause I ah, I mean, I like your style. I like your personality. I just like you.” Madeleine wasn’t won over just yet. More like a little weirded out instead.¬†She scanned Samantha carefully. Every possible inch of her. Then she focused her attention on her eyes, trying to read them for any clues about Samantha’s¬†authenicity…or not.

Soon enough Madeleine began to share her thoughts with Samantha.¬†Thoughtfully and slowly¬†“Look Samantha…” She did not dare call her Sam. Not today. “…I’m just going to be straight with you. Since I moved here with my family, I’ve met girls who’ve wanted to ‘chill'” Madeleine grew very animated with¬†air quotation marks and all. “But I got burned. I’ve¬†even been to jail.” Samantha’s mouth¬†fell open.¬†Madeleine continued. “Yes. Jail. Me.” Samantha¬†lowered her head¬†briefly, then leaned back against the dressing room partition and gave Madeleine her¬†undivided attention again. “I was desperate¬†to fit in then, but not anymore. Even my friendship with Devon has had¬†major ups and downs.” Samantha¬†slung¬†a¬†gigantic smile in Madeleine’s direction. “What. What’s that face for?” Madeleine became antsy. Samantha just continued to smile,¬†but no words came¬†from her end. “What Samantha? I mention Devon, and you light up like a Christmas tree. What’s that about?”

Samantha leaned off of the¬†dressing room partition,¬†stepped toward Madeleine and placed her hands gently on her shoulders. “Mads it’s nothing. Really.¬†I mean no harm. Any friend of Devon’s is a friend of mine. I just wanted to shop.”

Madeleine stepped back until she bumped into the closed dressing room door behind her. She glared at Samantha for what appeared to be thirty minutes,¬†to an hour but was¬†closer to¬†a minute in reality. “Trust is hard for me to¬†cough up¬†these days. So if you’re not going to be honest with me, I can’t¬†trust you. I never will.¬†Goodbye Samantha!” Madeleine flung open the¬†dressing room door and stomped out like a thoroughbred out of the starting gates at the Kentucky Derby.

Samantha looked on, amazed at what she had just witnessed. “Sweet Jesus!” She breathed a loud whisper. “Her wounds run deep.” She dropped her head, defeated.




Life Passages XXI – The Inevitable

“Um, thanks Mads…ah,thanks¬†for agreeing to move the conversation outside¬†the coffe shop. You know with Sam dropping in like that and all.” Devon¬†displayed a¬†wide, but nervous grin as he looked across at Madeleine sitting next to him on the bench¬†at their familiar spot in the park. “This way, no more distractions, right?” His smile managed¬†the impossible and widened even more.He nodded, expecting a response but Madeleine looked straight ahead. She didn’t smile. She couldn’t. Her stomach was a ball of¬†knots. She knew the¬†impending dialogue was inevitable but¬†that didn’t¬†make it any easier.

“O-kay-ay Mads. This¬†can’t be good. You¬†don’t want your face to get stuck like that do you?” Devon was partly joking and partly concerned. Madeleine finally¬†broke free from her worrisome bubble. She turned to face Devon. “Huh…what?¬†I missed something didn’t I? What?” Laughter came bubbling out of Devon. “You are¬†one of the funniest…and ah…by that I mean one of the most interesting people I know Mads.”¬†Devon¬†pressed on¬†his stomach with one hand and folded, almost all the way, over¬†laughing. A puzzled look¬†formed over¬†Madeleine’s face. “I don’t get what’s so funny.” Madeleine watched Devon’s body¬†energetically¬†rock and shake for a moment. “Nope. Still don’t get it.”

Devon straightened up and¬†worked to control his¬†outburst. “Okay, okay. I guess¬†I’ll just keep it to myself.” He sat still long enough to¬†look into Madeleine’s eyes, searching them for some¬†inkling of what was¬†stirring in her mind. “Okay, so let’s talk. Really talk Mads.” Madeleine turned¬†toward Devon and her eyes¬†locked on to his. She sucked in a long,¬†deep breath then¬†released it slowly. “Okay Devon, let’s talk.” Devon nodded,¬†not taking his eyes off of Madeleine.

“Ahem. Okay, let’s see. Where do I start?” Madeleine fidgeted with her¬†clothes and sat up straight like a pin. ” You asked why I cut you off…or was avoiding you.” Madeleine fidgeted once more. “Ahem. Well, you see…um, the thing is…” Madeleine shook her head vigorously attempting to reset her thought pattern. “Breathe¬†Mads. Breathe.” Devon leaned¬†toward her.¬†Madeleine looked up at the¬†lean but muscularly built¬†young man who sat¬†slightly higher than she did. “I’m breathing. Really, I am.” She forced a smile. “You see the¬†thing is, meeting you in our school library was a…well a¬†blessing. I see¬†that now. You were a lot nicer to me than the other kids I met when I started that school.” She looked down at her legs briefly and crossed them in an “X”. “Then all of a sudden I hang out¬†with you, Samantha and your friends and I begin to feel all kinds of…ah, strange.”

Devon’s forehead wrinkled and¬†his eyes drew¬†closer together. “Strange? There’s that word again. Strange how?” Madeleine cleared her throat elaborately, delaying the rest of the talk. “Ahem, ahem, ahem. Well…well, I began to think¬†that…that just maybe¬†I was jealous of Sam…” Devon sat straight up. “Jealous? What ever the heck for? Samantha likes you…” Madeleine turned her entire body toward Devon and leaned slightly toward him. “I know! That’s the thing, she’s great! Friendly. And I¬†can tell genuine. All your friends were ¬†really.” Devon’s¬†arms flap around¬†as he¬†becomes very animated. “So why¬†are you jealous¬†Mads?” Madeleine didn’t respond right¬†away. She settled back into her side of the bench and looked straight ahead in silence for what¬†seemed like an eternity. Devon stared at her from his end the entire time. Eventually he broke the silence. “Mads? The truth will set you free, you know.” He tried to joke.

“Are you and Samantha like…like¬†a couple Devon?” Madeleine spitted it out then covered her¬†mouth with one hand. Devon’s eyes widened and filled¬†with trepidation. “Is that why you’re jealous? You think Samantha is my¬†girlfriend?” Devon¬†swiveled his upper¬†body to sit straight ahead too.¬†Both Madeleine and Devon sat in silence, staring straight ahead for a few moments. Devon decided to disturb the silence. “Um so…um, what do we do now? I mean…” Madeleine’s neck whipped around and her mouth dropped open. “What do you mean, what do we do now?” Devon turned slowly toward Madeleine again. “You’re jealous, you think Sam’s my girl…” Madeleine leaned in toward Devon and hurled the burning question. “So¬†is she?”

Devon began to laugh so¬†loudly that it’s guaranteed¬†the occupants of all the neighboring homes around the park heard it. A large eyed Madeleine¬†looked at Devon in horror. The more she looked, the more he laughed. Soon she bounced to her feet. “Great! Laugh on but I’m not going to stick around and be embarrased.” Devon’s laughter was immediately cut short. He jumped to his feet and tugged on Madeleine’s wrist, as gently as was possible, to prevent her from walking away. “Mads. Mads, come on. Sam is not my girlfriend. Old friends since almost birth. That’s all.” Madeleine slowly pulled her wrist out¬†through Devon’s grasp and looked down at her beige ballet shoes. “Oh.”

Devon made one step forward but remained a¬†polite distance from Madeleine.¬†He looked down at his new friend who was still staring down at her shoes.” Mads believe me, if I¬†ever have a girlfriend you will be the very first to know. Deal?” Madeleine allowed her head to¬†rise slowly with a smile. “Deal.”

LPTheInevitable1 (2)


Life Passages XX – Meeting Of The Minds

The coffee shop door squeaked opened. Sunshine filled the room and ushered Madeleine in. She was¬†adorned¬†in a knee-length¬†blue and white horizontally stripped sun dress.¬†Her¬†hands visibly¬†trembled but she¬†managed a half-smile. Devon jumped to his feet with¬†an¬†enormous grin.¬†Madeleine spoke first with a bashful smile. “Hello”. Devon extended his arms straight into the air.¬†“Hi Mads. You’re here…finally.”¬†He stepped forward and placed his hands on Madeleine’s shoulders. She¬†stiffened.¬†¬†Devon examined Madeleine’s face closely. “Are you alright?”

Madeleine worked hard to¬†mask her anxiety. “Yeah…oh yeah. I’m good.” She¬†pointed to the table. “Shall we?” Devon’s focus shifted again. “Yeah, yeah.” He sat, leaned forward and propped his¬†face¬†up with the palms of his hands. “So let’s have it. What’s going¬†with you Mads?”¬†Madeleine looked down at her hands resting softly on the edge of the rectangular table. Soon she was interrupted by a noise from the opposite side of the table. “Ahem. Uh-oh hear it comes. I can already tell it’s going to be deep.” Devon taunted. Madeleine tossed him a crooked half-smile. “It really is okay to really smile you know.” Devon continued. She reclined back into her chair and allowed herself to giggle. “Always the joker, huh?”

“What can I say, laughter is like good medicine. I’m trying to stay mighty fine.” Laughter erupted. Madeleine snorted then reached for the napkin holder. Devon leaned his head back and joined her in the merriment. After a long two minutes of belly laughs Devon sat up straight and reached across the table. He took Madeleine’s hands in his own. A surprised Madeleine retreated so far back that her chair audibly scratched the ply wood¬† floor.¬†Her chest vividly expanded and contracted and she sat wide-eyed staring at Devon.¬†Madeleine’s fingers¬†squeezed the edge of her chair so tightly that her hands turned red. Oh no. Heck, I am so confused.

Devon stared back. The usually jovial young man was lost for words in that moment. God, I think I just blew it. What do I do now? Devon leaned¬†against the table and tried to speak. “Mads, um. Um, are you okay?” Madeleine kept her gaze on Devon a¬†while longer before she spoke. “What did you want to talk about Devon?” Devon swallowed hard. “I want to know why you cut me off?” Madeleine inhaled, held her breath for three seconds then exhaled. “I haven’t cut you off. I have been busy.” Devon immediately¬†rolled his eyes. “That line again? Really? Come on Madeleine. Be straight with me.” Madeleine¬†looked down at the stripes on her dress. Her eyes darted¬†from one end of her lap to the other, as though searching for the words to appear. She felt defeated. Eventually she found¬†some words but didn’t look up at Devon. “Devon, um I don’t know. I didn’t mean to…I haven’t cut you…” She looked up at him. “Devon I feel strange.”

“Huh? Strange?” Devon¬†hung on to every word. “Strange how?” Just then a burst of light¬†fell on Devon’s face and a familiar voice shot across the room from the door way. “Hey. Devon. Fancy meeting you here.”¬†The tall, athletically built Samantha¬†reached Devon and Madeleine’s table quickly.¬†Her face was¬†lit with a huge grin and¬†she¬†slapped Devon on the arm. He looked up at¬†her¬†and offered¬†an awkward smile. “Ah Sam, what are you doing here?” Samantha watched him curiously. “What do you mean? I always come here. Especially Saturdays. We always used to.” Samantha’s¬†neck swiveled quickly. She turned her attention to Madeleine. “Hi Madeleine. It’s been forever. We miss you at group. What’s been going on?” Madeleine’s¬† eyes displayed anxiety, even fear, while her lips curled into a smile.

Madeleine¬†sprung to her feet. “Excuse me. I need to go to the Ladies’ Room.” Devon stood too. “Mads…” Madeleine put her hand up toward him. She kept her voice soft and steady. “Devon, it’s just the bathroom. I’ll be back.” Devon chuckled. “I hope so. You’re an escape expert.” Madeleine chuckled too and headed in the direction of the restrooms. Samantha’s eyes followed Madeleine for a¬†fleeting moment¬†then¬†she dropped into¬†her vacant¬†chair. “Why do I get the feeling that I interrupted something here.” Devon pressed his lips together and shot Samantha an¬†accusatory glance. He looked¬†down at his hands resting on the table then back at Samantha. His tone was soft.¬†“That’s because you did Sam. That’s because you did.”¬†An astonished Samantha could barely speak. “Oh!”
LPMeetingMinds1 (2)





Life Passages XIX – Settlement

Devon spotted Madeleine right away. He broke into a¬†sprightly jog¬†across the school front¬†yard.¬†He¬†was oblivious¬†to¬†the people¬†lounging¬†on the grass. He¬†skipped¬†over¬†them with ease and made a bee line to Madeleine. She didn’t see, nor hear him approaching. Madeleine wore huge pink and white headphones that sat on top of her head with a cord¬†that¬†ran¬†into¬†the side pocket of her contrasting¬†red and black plaid backpack.¬†¬†Devon reached Madeleine quickly and tapped¬†on¬†the arm¬†nearest him¬†firmly, with enthusiasm. ¬†“Ow!” Madeleine immediately¬†jumped back¬†and instinctively slapped¬†Devon on his arm. “What the…what is wrong with you?” She rubbed¬†her¬†aching arm and grimaced.

“Oh man. Mads I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…Shoot. I was just so excited to see you.” Madeleine glared at Devon. Her expression was frozen in displeasure.

“Is that how you greet someone you’re excited to see? Geez! I’m sure I’m bruised.” Madeleine’s face scrunched up even more¬†from the pain.¬†Devon¬†drew close to her and attempted to examine her arm. “Don’t touch me!” Madeleine¬†hopped backwards,¬†one step away from Devon.¬†¬†His lips formed a frown and his forehead wrinkled. Devon dropped his hands to his sides in defeat.

“Mads, I’m really sorry. I just…I just…Well, what’s being going on with you? Why have you been avoiding me? A silly grin took shape on Devon’s face. “You know it’s just plain rude to ignore texts and not return phone calls, right?” Madeleine looked into¬†Devon’s face. There she found a sweet smile and immediately became¬†entranced by¬†the soft pool of big bright brown eyes.¬†After a long five¬†seconds Madeleine shaked her head quickly¬†and returned to the here and now.

“I…um…I have…I have been busy.” Madeleine found her voice, straightened her crooked posture and adjusted her headphones to fit firmly on her head again. “Look, I have to go.” Madeleine¬†put one foot forward . She¬†attempted to get away. Devon carefully touched her arm.

“Wait. You’re doing it again. You’re running off…” Devon¬†leaped forward and stood in front of Madeleine, facing her. He searched her face quickly, sighed and dropped his shoulders. “Madeleine, what’s really going on?”¬†Madeleine¬†looked past Devon. She gazed at¬†students going in and out the building.

“Devon, I have to go. I have a meeting with my counselor now.” She forced herself to be free of emotion and appear matter-of-fact but her body trembled a little from the effort. Devon slid over slightly¬†to his left blocking Madeleine’s line of vision.¬†He¬†began to form a stooping position and looked up into her face. Madeleine¬†felt Devon’s breath on her face. He’s so close. She looked down at him. Her face appeared stern but only barely camouflaged a smile, struggling to stay hidden. “I do…I do really have to go.” Her tone¬†was soft and¬†a smile began to peek out from behind her tough exterior.

“There it is! I see the Mads I know. I knew my pal was¬†still in there.” Devon flashed a wide grin. Madeleine’s stomach flipped at the sight of it. She¬†advanced forward again. Devon quickly grabbed her wrist, but with the utmost careful dexterity so not to hurt her again. “Can we talk…please. Can we settle this Mads? Whatever it is.” Madeleine sighed loudly as she dropped her head. She knew this day would come, but was she ready for it? Was she ready to confront the person who was responsible for so many frightening and¬†unexplained emotions¬†that were at¬†war¬†within her? She slowly raised her head again.

“Okay Devon. Okay. Let’s settle this.”

LPSettlement1 (2)





Life Passages XVIII-Pensive

Devon scratched the edge of his dark wooly hairline nervously. He used¬†his¬†hip to prop himself up against his grandfather’s quaint store’s wooden checkout counter. A few faint lines drew across his forehead and his stomach fluttered slightly. There was no mistaking his discomfort.

“What’s up with you?” Solomon stood observing his grandson from the doorway of the storeroom, behind the checkout counter. Devon didn’t even realize that Solomon¬†was nearby.

“Um…Huh?” Devon was awaken up from his deep introspection. “What do you mean Grandpa?” Devon’s eyes filled with confusion. Solomon took pity on him. A soft smile shaped¬†on the elderly gentleman’s lips. “You look like you’ve got a load on your mind young man.” Solomon carefully placed his clipboard and pen on the counter. “Care to share what’s going on?”

Devon scratched at his hairline again for a few seconds then¬†straightened up¬†and¬†faced his grandfather. “Um…I…I don’t…” A small cloud¬†of despondency formed¬†a shadow over¬†his shoulder and he bowed his head,¬†staring at¬†his shoes. “I don’t really know grandpa.”

“Hmmm” Solomon studied Devon’s face just a little longer.



Life Passages XVII-Knowing Her Own Heart

“No, no, no. God, No!” Madeleine sits at the edge of her bed hiding from her parents, the world, and most certainly, Devon. “God, I don’t need this right now.” She whispers, trying to¬†keep her argument with God private. “Do I…Did I feel…What the heck was that?” Madeleine covers her mouth with both hands, startled at her own¬†abrupt outburst.

“I mean, I didn’t see this coming. God did You…wait! What am I asking? Of course you did.” Madeleine allows herself to fall back on to her bed, and covers her face again. Like thoroughbreds racing for¬†a prize, her heart trots at record speed. Her hands slowly slip off of her face. For what seemed like an eternity Madeleine stares at¬†the¬†off-white ceiling. She doesn’t¬†see the ceiling though. Not really.¬†The image of Devon’s face and mannerisms¬†fill her imagination.¬†Her lips curve into a smile. Her mind conjures up images of¬†her and¬† Devon at his Grandfather’s antique book store, walking along side him from school to her home, at the pizza shop with his friends. Suddenly¬†a picture of Samantha, Devon’s friend who¬†Madeleine deems¬†out-of-this world gorgeous,¬†surfaces immediately quashing Madeleine’s¬†other,¬† more pleasant¬†thoughts.

Madeleine gags¬†then¬†jerks upright so not to choke on her own saliva. Shaking her head furiously she stands, and begins to pace her¬†woven¬†beige and grey carpet. “Exactly why this can’t be happening God! Clearly there is something¬†between them.” She massages the back of¬†her neck.¬†“Yeah, Devon…Samantha. There is definitely something there.”¬†Madeleine shakes her head vigorously, trying to reset her mind.¬†Then again, commanding¬†it to reboot.

Madeleine speed walks over to her Monarch White Corner Desk. She slides her novel of the week out of her red and black plaid backpack, and in two skips lands on her bed again. With her legs crossed like a pretzel, Madeleine begins to read, and it is not long till she gets lost in the mystery book.

Buzz…buzz. After thirty thought free minutes Madeleine’s concentration is broken. Creases line¬†her forehead as she focuses on the direction of the sound. Buzz…buzz. Madeleine leaps forward and retrieves the white and silver cell phone¬†on her desk, almost hidden underneath her backpack. A text message is waiting for her. Her chest expands in an¬†exaggerated motion with every breath. It is a message from Devon. Hey! Hope you got home okay. Madeleine’s eyes grow large, absorbing¬†the message when a second one rapidly follows it.¬†Are you alright?

Argh! After all the effort¬†Madeleine¬†put into shoving Devon out of her thoughts this Saturday afternoon, this sure does not help. Madeleine’s hands tighten around her phone, almost¬†suffocating it. She peaks at the message once more. Her breaths pick up speed. She walks the width of her room hoping to calm herself down. At the very least to think. After what seemed like five minutes, Madeleine settles back down on to her bed and¬†lays across it.¬†This time on her stomach, she mumbles another prayer. “Am I really alright, God?”¬†A long¬†sigh rises from her belly to her lips¬†“I’m not so sure that even I know.” Madeleine turns over allowing her head to hang off the bed. “So much I want to say, but there is so much that I don’t.”

Madeleine raises her body into a sitting position, her legs extended straight in front of her. She¬†pulls¬†the phone closer to her, along the length of her¬†knees toward her hips. She begins to type. Yup. I am home safe. Thanks. She reads the message again, three times¬†before she¬†hits send. Releasing the mobile gently on to her sheet, she looks upward. “Please help me figure this out…figure out if I’m really alright.”

LifePassages17B (3)



Life Passages XVI – A New Feeling

Madeleine can’t help herself. She knows that it is impolite to stare. Even down right creepy if its overt. Still, she uncontrollably gazes at all the teens, and young adults laughing, chewing at pizza slices and taking turns at sharing one funny story after the other. Everyone had been¬†extremely cordial, and¬† welcoming toward her. Quite frankly, Madeleine had never met such a friendly bunch of young people in her whole life.¬†What was even more peculiar was that¬†they didn’t seem to want anything from her but seemed to¬†genuinely want to know who she is. She really is. Hmmm…

She also couldn’t take her eyes off of Samantha. The lean eighteen year old with thick¬†caramel brown curly locks, darker than her own intense auburn hair,¬†appeared to have a special bond with Devon. They seemed to almost finish each other sentences. Madeleine’s eyes¬†are repeatedly¬†drawn to the young woman. She carried herself as though she didn’t have a care in the world, and easily made conversation with the diverse group of individuals. Madeleine¬†deduced that there were at least six different cultures represented there. Still, here attention¬†kept¬†meandering back¬†to Samantha.¬†A tinge of jealously began to surface. She felt it pricking at her, like small pins being used to hem the edges of her soul. Madeleine shakes her head¬†hoping¬†it will¬†dispel¬†any negative¬†thoughts, and feelings, all at once.¬†Suddenly, Devon¬†slips in next to her after animatedly telling a story on his feet. “Hey! You okay?” Devon stared into her eyes searching for¬†her true,¬†and immediate feelings. “I know that this bunch can be overwhelming, but they are harmless.” His grin warmed her, filling in any spaces of loneliness amidst this group.¬†Surprised¬†by her own new feelings she shifts her body ever so slightly away¬†from Devon. Her heart racing, she gestures to¬†stand up.

“Um…Devon, I…um…should get going.” Madeleine is half way up from the community bench, her knees bent, with an apologetic look on her¬†face. “I am¬†having a good time…It’s¬†great to meet your friends, but you know how my parents are about um…punctuality.” She is¬†fully standing at this juncture, using her body language to petition to Devon to let her pass him.

Devon stands and faces Madeleine, blocking her from¬†slipping pass him. “See! I¬†knew something was up. Too much too soon, huh?” Devon is playful, grinning from ear to ear. ¬†“At least let me walk you home.”¬†Devon’s voice¬†couldn’t have¬†sounded any kinder right then, and there¬†as far as Madeleine was concerned. “Oh¬†Com’on! Okay. I am not taking no for an answer, you know?” Devon cleared the way, and let Madeleine by. She slips out easily, gently waving to the others who one by one began to notice that she was leaving. “Are you leaving already?” Samantha jumped up and drew closer to her from the other side of the communal table in the pizza shop. “You just got here! So, when are we going to see you again?” Samantha smiles broadly, radiating a natural beauty that makes Madeleine want to fade into the background.

Somewhat intimidated, Madeleine¬†attempts to present her case to Samantha. “Um…I just have lots to do. You know?” Madeleine begins to feel the words coming more easily. “Not sure when I¬†will see¬†you guys again. We’ll see.” Madeleine forces a¬†smile at Samantha, the¬†young adults¬†seated,¬†and then at Devon on her left, hoping¬†she’s sold her position well. “So…I’ll see you guys. Thanks again. It’s been great! Goodbye.” Madeleine waves at the crowd, and¬†starts moving toward the door, still unable to make a clean getaway. Devon stares at Madeleine, almost sympathetically.¬†Eventually¬†he stands aside, allowing Madeleine to slip by.

“Alright then, if you must.” Devon relents shaking his head, unable to get it straight as to what else it would take to convince Mads that she can trust him. She can trust his friendship. “So like I said, I’m not taking no for an answer.” Devon begins to follow Madeleine out of his group’s popular hangout spot. She looks back over her shoulder. Her stomach turns just a bit. She keeps walking forward. When she clears the store’s entrance she turns around to face Devon on the sidewalk.

“Seriously! I’m good. I can make it home alone.” Madeline didn’t mean to¬†sound as firm as she did. “I mean…please¬†go have fun with your friends.” Madeleine hopes her second attempt worked¬†to accomplish¬†her,¬†now very familiar, escape. She held her breath waiting for him to respond. “Here’s the thing Mads, I get it. Maybe I should have had you hang out with just Sam and I at first, then introduced you to the larger group.” Madeleine swallows hard. Her suspicions¬†are being confirmed by the second. Samantha is someone special to Devon.

“It’s cool.” Madeleine is anxious¬†to leave. “I got to¬†go. Bye Devon.” Madeleine smiles sweetly at the young man whose¬†brilliant brown eyes she’s grown fond of looking into now. She begins to twist her shoulders, motioning¬†to walk away again. This time Devon¬†tugs her¬†left wrist, with his¬†right hand.¬†“Mads, I think you should chill with a bunch like this. They don’t mean any harm. Seriously.” Devon¬†is sincere. He is intent on selling her the idea of friendship again.

Madeleine can’t help but¬†search Devon’s eyes for what seemed like a very long thirty seconds, or even a minute. She had to know if he was really as nice as he seemed. Can he be trusted? Can she let her guard down? Can she let him in completely? “Oh really?” Is all she could manage to respond. Ahem. Madeleine clears her throat. “Devon, I don’t know…um, can I think about it?” Her eyes are wide.¬†They’re¬†pleading with Devon to understand her position. Pleading with him to give her the space she needs. Devon studies Madeleine closely too. His faith dictates that he look out¬†for the opportunity to guide the loss back home. He¬†terribly hoped that Madeleine could see¬†he has no schemes¬†up his sleeves to hurt her, in the least bit. “Please.” She makes one last effort.

Devon takes Madeleine’s two¬†hands into his, and stares¬†empathetically into her¬†jade green eyes. “I understand. You think about it.” Madeleine’s stomach makes a complete flip. Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.¬†Her heart¬†races, the sound growing¬†louder, and louder filling her¬†ear drums. She can’t take it. The sound of it, as though her chest was near exploding. She¬†pulls her hands away with a strong force, and stares at her feet. A somewhat startled Devon¬†pauses and watches the young woman across from him for a long while.¬†Madeleine’s eyes are fixed on the ground. She can’t bear to look up at him just yet.

Like a message from the heavens, it dawns on Devon that he has perhaps gone too far? He takes one step forward to present his case. Madeleine immediately takes one step back barely looking up at Devon. Devon stops. His eyes are still¬†fixed on Madeleine, carefully¬†observing her body language.¬†Not quite sure what to say or do. He¬†makes an attempt anyway. “Um…Mads, are you okay?” Madeleine desperately wants to run away, as¬†usual, but this time the touch of Devon’s hands has left her somewhat paralyzed. She takes her time, trying to¬†calculate the correct reply or next move to ¬†make. She swallows long, and slowly.

“I am okay. I just need to head home. I…I think I¬†may be¬†coming down with something. Don’t want to spread it.” Her words are calculated, accompanied by strained laughter. Eventually she looks straight into Devon’s eyes. “Got to go Devon. I’ll see you…Thanks. Bye.” She’s assertive¬†but with kind. She¬†inches away still facing Devon for a few seconds, then turns and walks away briskly leaving Devon staring on, transfixed. He isn’t¬†quite sure what¬†he should do. He genuinely wants to help Madeleine. He wants to help¬†her to break down her walls, and let community in. The right¬†sort of community. Individuals who¬†acted out of¬†a sense of purpose,¬†rooted in faith.¬†But had he gone about it the wrong way? He truly…truly wondered.¬†Madeleine is fun. Madeleine is intelligent. Madeleine loves graphic novels, just like him. Madeleine is lonely. As¬†he stood watching her walk away alone, he strongly considered whether his intentions¬†for gaining her¬†friendship were purely to help a lonely, and hurt¬†girl find true friendship again, or whether it was something else.

LifePassages16 (2)




Life Passages XV – The Fruit of Patience

“Sshh” Mrs. Walcott, the High School Librarian walks by and hushes Madeleine and Devon. They are seated in the back of the fiction section. They thought that they were properly hidden, at the end of the last row of book shelves. Clearly that is not the case.

Devon found Madeleine. She had made up her mind that she was going to experience the remainder of high school her way-alone. However, Devon is also determined. He is convinced that she needs a friend-and soon. He can identify with being a loner. To add to that, the words of his grandfather, and the faith teaching his parents instilled in him, from a small child, has led him to be tuned in to Madeleine. He knows that her behavior is only a symtom of something deeper. Directly after his last class, he jogged off to the school library hoping he would find her there, and he did.

“You’re going to get us kicked out” Madeleine teases Devon.

“Me? You’re the one with the big mouth.” Devon chuckles.

Madeleine shoots him a meancing look. “Excuse me?”

“I’m just teasing Mads…just teasing.” Devon smiles sweetly, and pats her awakardly on the shoulder. Madeleine slowly looks down at Devon’s hand on her shoulder, and then up in to his sparkling brown eyes. She feels a slight twinge in her stomach. Gulp!¬†Madeline looks down in to the book on her lap. The one she and Devon had been poring over. The novel provided them with much entertainment as they read in tandem.

“Want to keep reading?” Devon stares at Madeleine. He is extraordinarly upbeat. Madeleine is silent. She ponders the question. Hmmm. She¬†soon slides her back pack closer, and extracts her cell phone from the outter pocket, and checks the time.

“I have to go. Um, my mother wanted me to help her with something, or the other.” Madeleine begins to stand. Devon mimicks her motion.

“Ok. Cool. I will walk with you.” Devon smiles broadly as he stands. Madeleine freezes. She looks up at Devon, and studies his face. Why? Why is he so darn friendly?¬†Madeleine studies Devon’s face a moment longer.¬†“It’s okay. I’m sure you have stuff to do with your b-ball¬†buddies.” Madeleine spits out, and slings her bag over her right shoulder. Devon bows, then shakes his head.

“That again? Really Mads, you really need to come up with something original.” Devon keeps in step with Madeleine. They exit the library, and enter the hall way. A few students are wondering through the halls, going to and fro to extra-curricular activities. ¬†Madeleine and Devon weave in and out of the students on the way out of the main doorway. Devon is on Madeleine’s heels.

On the steps of the school, Madeleine stops abruptly. “Okay. Really? You’re really going to walk with me?” Madeleine is genuinely surprised. “Yeah! I don’t have anything better to do.” Devon is playful. He laughs at his own attempt at a joke.

“Figures! You’re conveniently hanging out with me cause there’s no practice today. I don’t need your charity, you know?” Madeleine is a bit frustrated. Her patience with people attempting to be her friend is very short. Madeleine and her family have moved four times in the last five years due to her father’s high profile job. Each time she tried hard to fit in, she attracted less than authentic school mates. The troublemakers she attached herself to at her current school, before meeting Devon, even ¬†caused her a few hours in jail. Now Madeleine figures the best way to remain out of trouble is to walk through life alone. Besides, who knows when her father will be re-assigned again.

“What’s up with you Mads? You hang out alone-like all the time-and you’re bent on turning me away. What’s the deal?” Devon is prepared to get to the crux of the matter.

“What’s my deal? What’s your’s Devon? You don’t need to hang around me. What’s your agenda?” Madeleine refuses to back down.

“Ok. That’s fair. Well, I think you can use a friend. Besides, I like hanging out with you. In case you didn’t know, you’re pretty cool!” Devon is brutally honest. He’s come to really enjoy his time with Madeleine, even when she is being a little snippy. He finds it entertaining.

Madeleine’s face is warm. She raises her left hand to her cheek. Oh God, please don’t let my cheek be noticeably red! She is somewhat affected by Devon’s words although she has not quite grasped why yet. She looks straight ahead. Madeleine does not dare look at Devon.

“Whatever Devon! All ¬†‘words'”. Madeleine raises her hands, gesturing quotes.

Stay focused Mads, stay focused! You don’t need any more trouble from people pretending to be your friend. Oh so she thought. Madeleine increases her pace. She hopes to be rid of Devon, but his long legs remain in pace with hers. After about a minute of trying to outwalk Devon, Madeleine takes a deep breath, and slows her pace, then eventually stops. She turns slowly to face Devon, contemplating her next words.

“What do you really want, Devon? I don’t need any friends. The books, and the comics are cool but I do better alone.” Although Madeleine speaks slowly and thoughtfully, her tone is sprinkled with agression.

“Aw com’on, everyone needs friends. If even just one.” Devon remains upbeat. He hopes to be a source of encouragement. He understands a bit about her ‘inner torture’.

“I don’t!” Madeleine is emphatic. “Been there, done that. It’s not worth it. Everyone wants something from you, and it ain’t all good.” Madeleine’s mind reaches back, and almost like someone pressed play on a stored video in her brain, the memories coming flooding back. The memories of her moving from one city to another. The memories of beginning friendships that were pleasant and having to be torn away from them, to just plain falling into the wrong crowd and getting into trouble, all for the sake of ¬†being accepted, and feeling important. It was all too much. Madeleine shakes her head and blinks, trying to shake the bad memories away.

Madeleine’s eyes meet Devon’s. Kindness is radiating from his. Madeleine is slightly embarassed. She is also curious. What’s his deal-I mean really? The more I push him away, the closer he gets. “Like, I said. What do you really want Devon?” She is blunt, almost harsh.

“To hang out. What’s the big deal?” Devon continues to flash a wide grin. He is determined to be patient with Madeleine. My fatih in action. Patience is the fruit that needs to bloosom right here, right now. He gives himself a pep talk. Madeleine studies Devon’s face. She is trying to find some fault in him. A chink in his armor. Just before she gets lost in the brilliance of his brown eyes, and the curls of his wooly-like hair, her wall goes up again.

“Um, I have to get home. It’s like a thing with my parents. See ya, when I see ya.” Madeleine adjusts the strap of her school bag on her shoulder, and begins walking again, at a normal pace. Devon walks alongside her.

“So see you tomorrow at the library then?” Devon’s tone is still chipper. Madeleine shakes her head. A smile begins to curl around the edges of her mouth.

“I don’t quite get your persistence. What are you up to?” Madeleine is still looking straight ahead. She doesn’t want Devon to notice that she is amused at this point.

“I am just being friendly. You know, to make a friend. Duh!” Devon’s delivery is comical, and they both erupt in to laughter. Madeleine, and Devon laugh heartily for close to one minute. Devon tries to talk in between laughs. “It’s like this Mads. Everyone needs a friend, and I know that you do too. High School can be rough. It isn’t safe to go through it alone.”

No comedy now. This time Devon’s tone is kind, almost compassionate. For the first time Madeleine wonders whether God had placed Devon in her life. Every friend she tried to make before either hurt her, or she was prematurely seperated from them. Things seemed to be going well for her father at the International firm he worked at. He was shaking things up, from the ground up, and it appeared that he would be needed for the long haul to make things thrive. Perhaps God had heard her heart’s cries.

She was content with going through the remainder of high school alone. Still, she hadn’t been truly happy in quite some time. Beyond her parents, she hadn’t been able to really trust anyone in a while. Madeleine stares at Devon, almost trying to read the notes of his soul. “Alone saves me from a whole lot of junk. It works.” Madeleine is not ready to let her walls down.

“Does it Madeleine? Does ‘alone’ really work? Look, whatever you’ve had to deal with in the past, everyone is not the same.” Devon’s compassionate tone begins to take anchor. It is almost as though he can read her mind. “I know a group of young people who are quite different. We work to bring out the best in one another. We meet every other Saturday night at the Pizzeria downtown. Want to join this week?”

Madeline’s lips part, and her mouth drops open. She stands staring at Devon amazed. Is Devon…is he different like me? Her eyes widen. They grow as big as saucers, fixed on Devon. God, is this You? Is this my answer?

….To be continued.



Life Passages XIV – Breaking Ground

Madeleine sits on a wooden bench, under a humungous¬†tree. It has foliage so thick that it provides ample shade for reading. Madeleine has¬†taken her favorite past time-actually obsession,¬†to the park two blocks away from home. She throws herself ¬†into the graphic novel she purchased at Solomon’s bookstore. It is her third go at the book, since she purchased it two days ago.

She looked forward to escaping school, and sitting at the park all day. It has been quite a feat to avoid Devon though. Aside from several text messages, and ¬†a few missed calls, he¬†near followed her around the school halls-besides during classes-today. The evening following Madeliene’s odd departure from his grandfather’s store, the day before yesterday, Devon spent a great deal of time processing what occurred. He eventually gave up working things out on his own, and had a talk with Solomon the next evening.

“I get the impression Madeleine was startled Devon.” Solomon begins to offer his opinion.

“Startled at what Grandpa? I told her I would meet her here after basketball practice. She knew I would show up.” Devon interjects.

“Yes, but did she expect your posse?” Solomon says with a smile.

It’s as though a light comes on in Devon’s 17 year old brian. He pauses. He ponders. “No‚Ķno¬†she¬†didn’t.” Devon hangs his head, almost ashamed that he wasn’t more in tune to that. “I forget‚ĶMads likes to get lost in books. She’s not big on crowds.” Devon sums up. He begins to recall how he met Madeleine. It was while he, himself escaped to the school library to parttake in his love of reading, in private. Devon works hard to live in between two worlds-and keep them seperate. He took great lengths to not let his basketball buddies into his “book sphere”, but that infamous day, when they scared Madeleine away, they had pestered him about where he was running off to, where he goes when he suddenly disappears, and some more taunts. He couldn’t shake them.

Devon eventually gave in. He thought, Well it’s only the comic books, and they’re cool, so why not. Still, he forgot that the Madeleine¬†he met, that day in the library, was more like the book nerd side of him.¬†As a matter of fact, while speaking with his grandfather, he realizes that he had not really seen Madeleine hanging out with anyone else at school. “I guess my first thought to keep my ‘two worlds’ separate was the right one.” He concludes. Solomon chuckles.

“Don’t worry too much, son. Give¬†Madeleine a call‚Ķstraighten everything out. I’m sure she’d understand.” Solomon begun to advise. “But Devon, I sense Madeleine had a reason, bigger than you, for walking out. Be patient.” Devon nodded.

Today, Devon tries his very best to catch up with Madeleine, to explain his side of things to her. She eludes him so well, you would think she’s had expert training in¬†covert ops. Devon doesn’t give up. He’s quite crafty himself. He foregoes one afternoon of practice, and¬†manages to follow¬†Madeleine’s seemingly evasive¬†trail to the park.

“Hey!” Devon says apprehensively to Madeleine, looking down at her sitting on the park bench.

Madeleine lifts her head slowly. “What are you doing here?” She says surprised that Devon was able to catch up with her.

“Um, I‚ĶWhat’s up? You left Grandpa’s store in hurry¬†the other day.” Devon answers, working to regain his confidence.

Madeleine rolls her eyes, and¬†shakes her head. She just wants to be left alone. She hasn’t known Devon that long, and severing whatever friendship they were building now, is¬†for the best, as far as she is concerned.

“Just forget about it, alright?” Madeleine insists.

Devon grows impatient. “What do you mean, forget about it!”

Devon’s tone startles Madeleine. She looks up at him to find a genuinely confused expression¬†on his face. She looks down at her book again. Then makes a second attempt to shake Devon off. “I needed to leave. I had somewhere to be. It’s not a big deal, so don’t make it one, okay?” Madeleine tells him. Then before Devon¬†can utter¬†one other word¬†Madeleine quips, “Besides you had tons of company, so what difference does it make?”

“There it is! I knew it!” Devon stands directly in front of Madeleine now. He is still looking down at her. “You had a problem with my friends.” Devon delivers.

Madeleine looks up at Devon. She is upset, but refuses to invest any more emotion in to the situation. Well, at least not demonstrate any for Devon’s benefit. She slowly stands to her feet. Still not quite eye to eye with Devon, she looks into his radiant brown eyes. “You’re interrupting me. I’m trying to read. So, I’m going to leave.” Madeleine says nonchalantly, and begins to step¬†away from Devon.

“So that’s it? I’m interrupting your reading? That’s all?” Devon says with¬†a chuckle, then leaps forward toward Madeleine, and begins to walk alongside her. “What’s really going on Mads?” Devon recalls his Grandfather’s intuitive suspicion.

“What’s really going on is that you’re bothering me.” Madeline says firmly. For some reason, Devon thinks Madeleine’s attitude is hilarious.

“Ok. Well, since I am already bothering you‚ĶFor the record, I couldn’t shake those guys the other day. They were hot on my heels, and all up in my business.” Devon explains.

Desperate to be left alone, Madeline softens her tone. “It’s cool, okay? You have friends. It’s done. See you at school.” Madeline speeds up. However, Devon stops in his tracks bewildered.

“So, wait! That’s it? We’re cool?” Devon shouts after Madeleine. She doesn’t respond, or look back at him. She keeps walking, and fast. As a result, Devon jogs a bit to catch¬†up with her. He doesn’t speak right away. He looks down at Madeleine’s hands clutching her book.

“That¬†book is dope! I’ve read it like five times myself.” Madeleine looks down at her hand, grabbing firmly¬†on to the book. She swallows hard. She remembers that books are what brought her and Devon together in the first place. She stops abruptly, and turns to him. Devon halts, turns toward Madeleine, and smiles. He observes¬†a few strands of her reddish brunette, blunt hair blowing into¬†her greenish brown eyes.¬†He smiles. He assesses that just like her personality, she also possesses a unique appearance. “So do you like it?” He eventually asks about the book.

“Yep!” Madeleine says quickly. “Again, thanks for introducing me to your Grandfather’s book store. I guess I’ll see you whenever you ‘escape’ to the library again.” ¬†Madeline says politely, and resumes¬†walking home. Devon takes a large step, with his long legs and catches up again. “Aw, C’mon! You have to visit Solomon again. He’s going to miss you.” Devon says playfully.

Madeleine can’t help but laugh. For some reason, Devon knows how to make her do just that, even when she doesn’t want to. “It wouldn’t happen again! We can meet there on the days I don’t have practice, and you can go on the days I do, and I wouldn’t come.” Devon says, determined to regain the friendship. Madeleine thinks for a few seconds.

“It’s not a big deal Devon. Really! I’m glad for the reading material, but the library is fine.” Madeleine says thoughtfully. Devon gives Madeleine’s words some thought as well. “What are you so afraid of Mads?” Madeleine stops walking again. She turns to look at the young man, who has now turned around to face her. Her face becomes warm, and noticeably red. “I am not afraid of anything! I just want to be left alone!” Madeleine says, and stomps off. Devon shakes his head. “Here we go again.” He mutters to himself “Well, it’s obvious something’s got you spooked.” He shouts after Madeleine. She doesn’t look back. Madeleine walks on for a few more paces. Suddenly, Madeleine turns around. She is surprised to see Devon still standing there, just looking at her. “What are you doing?” She hurls at him. Devon shrugs his shoulders. He’s convinced now that his grandfather was right. To add to that, he fully understands the life of a loner. The life of an introvert. However, his love for sports is what drew him out of it.

Devon slowly walks toward Madeline. She doesn’t move. When he almost reaches her, about three feet away, he slows, and stops. “I didn’t always have friends at school. My grandfather was my only friend for a long time. Loving sports broke that but‚Ķ” Madeleine interrupts Devon’s speech. “I don’t need friends. I’m happier alone.” She tells him passionately, and stares at him with wide eyes. “Are you really?” Devon replies, trying to stifle a laugh.

“Yep! Uh-Huh!” Madeleine retorts then continues on her way home.

“I don’t believe that for one-second Madeleine! You’re not going to shake me that easily! See you in the Library tomorrow!” Devon shouts after Madeleine as she exits the park and walks on to the neighborhood streets toward home

To Be Continued…



Life Passages XIII – Everyone’s The Same

“OMG! Mr. Solomon these novels, and comics are outrageous!” Madeleine told¬†the store owner, and Grandfather of her new friend, Devon. ¬†Solomon laughed out loud. “Well I think they’re decent Madeleine.” Solomon eventually said once he was able to catch his breath.

“I can’t thank you enough for letting me¬†hang out here and‚Ķand just read. I promise I will buy something. I just can’t decide what.” Madeleine was¬†ecstatic. Laughter shook Solomon’s body and¬†one hand rubbed the round of¬†his belly.

“Please, take your time Madeleine. My payoff is¬†seeing young people enjoying themselves with the books.¬†So, don’t fret. Just enjoy!” Solomon returned to the cash register with a spring in his step and¬†continued¬†sorting new, and second-hand inventory.

About thirty¬†minutes later-an hour after Madeleine’s arrival¬†at¬†Solomon’s bookstore that afternoon-she was¬†planted in a corner¬†with her head buried in a juicy graphic novel. This is¬†as good as watching a movie…or better.¬†A smile formed on Madeleine’s face in tandem¬†with her thoughts.

All of a sudden the store’s front door bursted open. Madeleine was immediately distracted. The¬†store’s threshold was cluttered with near¬†rambunctious¬†teenagers. Devon was¬†leading a pack of what looked like a few of his basketball teammates, and—wait a minute—¬†Girls? Urgh! Thought I was free of¬†catty girls! Madeleine’s mind was racing. She expected Devon to be alone. So much for believing I’d met¬†someone just as ‘weird’ as me. He’s just like everyone else!

Madeleine jumped up from her¬†cozy spot¬†and walked hastily over to Solomon at the cash register. “I’ll take this one‚Ķ” She pushed¬†the book gently but quickly¬†toward Solomon and offered him a nervous smile.

“Hey, Mads! There you are.” Devon sauntered¬†up behind Madeleine with a huge grin. Madeleine didn’t respond, or change her focus. She remained face to face¬†with¬†Solomon, waiting for him to complete the transaction. “Hey Madeleine‚Ķwhat’s up?” Devon made¬†a second attempt at getting¬†Madeleine’s attention but she continued to ignore him.

“Thank¬†you¬†Solomon. You have an amazing store. I am¬†really¬†glad I met you. Goodbye.” Madeleine reached out and clasped the top of the brown paper bag containing the book she had begun to enjoy. “You’re very welcomed dear. Goodbye Madeleine.” ¬†Solomon’s lips curled into a warm smile. Madeleine returned one of her own, nodded at the affable grandfather then turned to leave the store. However, her exit¬†was a little tricky

“You’re leaving?” Devon¬†moved quickly¬†and¬†planted his feet, blocking¬†Madeleine.¬†Surprise was evident in his expression. Especially now that he had¬†arrived. He was there. Meeting up at the bookstore was the plan. Right? That’s what¬†Devon¬†thought anyway. Seemed like¬†the plan changed. “I just got here!” Devon’s face wore a mix of frustration and confusion. Madeleine tip-toed to¬†look¬†over Devon’s shoulder¬†at the other six teenagers in the quaint space. “I see.” She eventually said nonchalantly. “Well, I’m leaving. Goodbye Devon.” Madeleine walked around Devon’s other shoulder,¬†cut through one of the book shelf¬†aisles, and out the store.

Devon’s¬†jaw¬†dropped, almost to the floor. “What was that?” He turned to¬†face his grandfather. Solomon slowly shook¬†his head¬†then walked toward¬†the back room office, through an entry way behind the register. “I don’t get it!” Devon wasn’t done¬†yet-Grandfather or not. “You don’t get what, man?” Sean, one of Devon’s basketball buddies, shouted back at¬†him. “I thought you wanted to show us some cool comics, man. Let’s go.” Sean was more concerned with his needs.

Devon didn’t truly hear Sean. His thoughts¬†were with Madeleine.¬†I thought‚Ķwe agreed‚ĶWeren’t we meeting here? Devon struggled to comprehend what had just¬†happened between him and Madeleine. Why would Madeleine leave?‚ĶWe said we’d meet‚Ķ¬†Devon’s thoughts¬†were beginning to¬†whirl out of control. Eventually he gave up. Trying to understand Madeleine and the way her brain worked just about wore him out. Devon joined his friends. He half-heartedly talked, joked, and showed the group¬†the cool comics he promised. Still his mind drifted off¬†to Madeleine, replaying her behavior over and over again. He couldn’t¬†help it.

Meanwhile Madeleine walked home clutching her precious brown paper bag under her arms. It would absolutely be more convenient to place it in her book bag, but somehow holding on to it soothed her right then. Why am I so unlucky when it comes to making friends. God, am I destined to be alone for the rest of my life? Madeleine pondered, prayed, then pondered again-all the way home.

Once at home, Madeleine¬†headed directly¬†to her room, saying no more than a faint ¬†“hello” to her parents as she walked past them in the front sitting room. She dropped heavily on to her bed like a¬†massive¬†log. She was¬†still clutching the brown paper bag, and she held on to it firmly¬†until she drifted off to sleep.


To Be Continued…




Life Passages XII – Revelation

Madeleine wonders aimlessly through the halls of her high school. She thought she had finally met someone who is more like herself, and unlike the “fake friends” she’d made previously. Yet Devon appears to be another disappointment‚Ķa HUGE disappointment. Well, at least according to¬†Madeleine’s current estimation.

Devon stands at the other end of the long corridor. He is surrounded by his basketball team mates, who in chorus, excitedly¬†recount their exploits from the afternoon before. “Man, you missed it!” said the burly, Sean. “Yeah, Dude!” The lanky Chase added. “Where were you anyway?” Chase continued.

Just as¬†Devon is about to answer, he catches a glimpse of Madeleine walking up the crowded hallway. He ignores¬†his team buddies, and begins to move toward her. “Hey man! Where are you going?” He hears the words being hurled toward him. Devon is severely distracted.

“Mads!‚ĶMadeleine!” Devon sprints to catch up to Madeleine before she turns the corner down a narrower walkway.

Madeleine hears her name wafting through the air, and slowly turns¬†around in response to it. She notices¬†Devon jogging toward her, and turns again¬†to walk away. “Mads‚ĶI‚ĶI mean, Madeleine wait up!” Devon calls after her. Madeleine pauses, and slowly swivels toward him. She observes¬†him briefly and tries not to laugh. She thinks the athlete’s¬†¬†breathless running is sort of hilarious “What Devon? ‚ĶWhat is it?” She says, portraying¬†displeasure, and trying to stifle her laughter. “Oh c’mon! Are you still mad at me?” Madeleine shoots Devon a sharp look. “What do you think, genius?” She tells him forcibly. Devon’s eyes widen. “Madeleine, I said I was Sorry! What else do you really want from me?” Madeleine is surprised at how flustered Devon is becoming.

Madeleine thinks quickly. “Is Devon¬†really getting upset about my not¬†‘surrendering’ to¬†his apology?” Madeleine¬†analyzes Devon’s face. Devon then realizes that Madeleine has stopped speaking, and is staring at him. This somehow calms him. “Mads, look‚ĶI‚Ķuh‚ĶI am not used to having a‚Ķum, a Girl for a friend.” Devon spits¬†out awkwardly. “I may hang with the Jocks fine, but deep down I’m a comic book nerd whose trying to balance it all, and just make it through High School without any drama.”

Madeleine bursts out into laughter. Devon is flabbergasted. “What the heck is so funny?” Madeleine laughs harder. Devon continues to question her, even plead with her to explain but her laughter grows uncontrollable. Eventually Madeleine talks through her spastic giggles. “I’m sorry‚ĶI see it now‚Ķ” Madeleine begins. “You come across as this tough jock, but there’s someone else hiding in there.” Devon bows, then¬†shakes his head. “Umph! Well, at least you’re laughing‚Ķeven if it is at me‚Ķit’s an improvement on your previous attitude.”

Madeleine laughs harder and turns again to walk down the narrower hallway to her class. Devon follows, then¬†walks alongside her. “Meet you at Solomon’s bookstore after school?” Devon asks. Madeleine ponders¬†briefly, then asks. “What about B-ball practice?” Devon smiles broadly in response. “I figure, you’ll get so caught up with the leather backs, that you’ll still be there.” Madeleine stifles a giggle, and straightens¬†her expression. “We’ll see‚Ķ” She tells Devon casually, and appearing aloof. Devon smiles confidently. “See you after school Mads!” Devon tells Madeleine, nods, ¬†then tears apart from walking alongside¬†her to head to his first class for¬†the day.

To Be Continued…



Life Passages XI – The Fall Out

“Mads! Wait up!” Devon calls after Madeleine while running out of his Grandfather’s Collector’s Bookstore. “Oh Come On Madeleine!‚ĶPlease!”

Madeleine continues walking briskly ahead. The sound of Devon’s voice rings in her ears. After a few more paces, Madeleine halts to a stop, and swivels around. “What do you want Devon?”

Devon takes a deep breath. “What’s wrong with you? What’s made you¬†upset?”

Madeleine stares at Devon curiously. “You seriously don’t know what you did?”

“No. I don’t Mads.” He says in a calm tone as he draws closer to her. “What did I do?”

Completely heated, Madeleine fires off. “You embarrassed me back there. How could you allude to my being some spoilt rich kid?”

Devon chuckles. “Allude, huh? I see you use big words when you get angry.” Devon laughs out loud.

Madeleine stomps her foot, turns and walks away.

“Oh Come on Mads! I was just joking. Come O-N!” Devon shouts after Madeleine and jogs to catch up with her.

Devon comes alongside Madeleine. He breathes a brief sigh. “Look, I’m sorry Mads. I didn’t mean anything by what I said.” Devon sighs once more. “I think that my Grandfather was right. I am jealous that you get to¬†soak up all those books any day of the week that you want.” Devon takes a third breath. “Are we cool?”

Madeleine continues to stew a little longer, and walks beside Devon in silence till they hit the city’s main street then halts abruptly. “Are you following me home now?”

Devon smiles. He’s relieved that Madeline has¬†finally spoken to him. “I can.” He offers sarcastically.

Madeleine rolls her eyes. “I don’t think that is a good idea Devon.”

Devon’s eyes widen. “What, you don’t want your parents to see me, or something?”

Madeleine’s mouth gaps open. “What is with your diarrhea¬†of the mouth today? Geez! ‚ĶYou know what? Thank you for taking me to your Grandfather’s amazing store. I can get home all on my own. So, GOOD-BYE!” Madeleine says forcibly with one hand in front of Devon’s face as though stopping traffic. She then speeds forward a few steps, turns down a side street and disappears.

Devon stands still, almost paralyzed at the events that occurred that afternoon. “What just happened?” He thought to himself. “How did I get here? I’ve made a girl apocalypse-sized angry‚ĶAND, I’ve tried to stay clear of them all year, to focus on basketball!‚ĶAbsolutely weird!”

Devon bows his head slightly, shakes it, then turns around to head toward home.

To Be Continued…

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Local Independent Film Spotlight: Jyoti Singh

This week’s Local Independent Film Spotlight highlights a one-of-a kind, local to global action, and filmmaking talent. Everyone, meet Jyoti Singh. I was drawn to Jyoti through her acting work in the short film,¬†‚ÄúSamosa‚ÄĚ. The film was insightful and entertaining. This led me to further¬†discover her wider scope of talent and work, and I was drawn to her involvement with creating work here and abroad. Being a huge Bollywood fan, who has come from a tradition of watching one Bollywood movie per Sunday with my Dad, naturally, I wanted to learn more about Jyoti’s current film in the works, “The Dignified Princess”.¬†

Jyoti thinks big, and her approach to getting the job done, and realizing her dreams is inspiring. Let’s get the conversation started.

Sit back, relax, even grab a snack if you like, and Read On to learn more about the impressive Jyoti Singh.

Hello Jyoti, I am truly excited to have this opportunity to speak with you. I have seen you in the role of an actress and loved it. However, please give us a detailed break down of your skills in the film industry.

Hi Diane, Thank you so such a wonderful opportunity. Thank you for watching ‚ÄúSamosa,‚ÄĚ our short film. When I started in this industry after moving to Midtown Manhattan around 2009, I didn‚Äôt aim to perfect any single skill in particular. I was just so passionate that I enthusiastically jumped on any project that struck my fancy and boy, there were so many! My presence, accessibility, and interest allowed me to explore the roles of writer, voiceover, critic, Producer/Manager, promoter, director and even, cinematographer. But most of all, I consider myself an actress. In front of the camera is where I feel most at home; portraying the emotions of a character‚Ķthat‚Äôs where I get most fired up!

Where did your passion for performing, and film work begin?

My passion for being an actress goes pretty much back to the time I was a child. I started acting in school plays from nursery to about 4th grade; this was in India. Then a huge obstacle presented itself when I was asked to be partially nude in a role as Eve in ‚ÄúAdam and Eve,‚ÄĚ a middle school play. In response, I opted out and actually just skipped school the day of the play. In hindsight, I guess it was my conservative upbringing and my effort to preserve my ‚ÄúIndian family dignity‚ÄĚ that kept me home that day and pretty much ended my streak of acting. Until I reached college – in America, that is. I led several college dance performances (Indian folk dancing) and took part in talent shows. When asked to choose a major, I told my parents I instead wanted to move to NY and join acting school but of course, they were shocked and wanted me to focus on Academic career. It wasn‚Äôt until 10 years later that my life journey thankfully brought me to NY, where my childhood passion of acting actually started to blossom into real gigs.

What variety of projects have you been involved with up till now? What is your Bio, if you will?

I have worked mostly in Independent Cinema, student films, short films, hosting in Indian TV, some featured background work in TV shows like Gossip Girl & Monsters Inside of Me, industrials, commercials, voice-overs, theatre, Internet TV, music videos, reality chef in a cook-off TV show, supporting roles and by now 3 lead roles in feature films. Most recently, I had a Principal role (Pharmacist) in ‚ÄúThe Slap,‚ÄĚ the NBC mini-series.

I was born in India and raised there until 1987. I have lived more of my life here in America. My father was an Army engineer and my mom an Assoc. Prof. of English Literature and also belonged to a famed royal family (daughter of King of Maihar, Estate of Madhya Pradesh).

I wanted to act when I was young but was encouraged to more conventional career choices by my family. Since my deepest desire had always been to help people in need, I chose nursing and worked for American Red Cross, then with a psychiatrist. Meeting a man who was also dedicated to altruism and humanitarianism, I got married and moved to NY and slowly found myself in a position of complete financial freedom after my diligent husband met his career goals quicker than expected. With all the time in the world, I could do anything, go anywhere and that was about when the bad news of the 2004 tsunami hit. So I went to volunteer at a hospital in India. This facility was run at no cost to the poor by a great spiritual leader named Amma, better known in the USA as The Hugging Saint. During downtime from volunteering, I started reading some of the books there and actually ended up having an unexpected, pretty profound spiritual awakening.

When I got back to NY, refreshed with a new self-knowledge, stronger sense of direction, I started singing classes, acting classes and met a working actor who allowed me to write his scripts for his weekly TV appearance. I put my heart and soul into that every weekend and acted in a few student films. I slowly crossed the challenges of the shyness everyone feels in front of a quiet camera and the vulnerability an actor feels during an audition.

I then got a big boost when I enrolled in a course with Bollywood‚Äôs most well known acting coach Professor Taneja here in NY. That is the first time I realized acting was being true to who you really are in an imaginary situation or character. When I asked for feedback on a certain sobbing performance of mine, I was taught ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not about the actual crying, it‚Äôs about feeling the moment. You don‚Äôt always have to cry, your emotions will show. You can cry before you come to the scene. Give yourself time, be in the moment.‚ÄĚ That was some valuable stuff I‚Äôd never forget. By the end of the course, Professor Taneja told me I needed to stop taking classes and now just jump into working as an actor. That surprised me but gave me tremendous confidence.

Then I auditioned for a lead role in the feature film 9 Eleven and truly did a fantastic job. But the film didn‚Äôt go far financially and remained independent and relatively unknown. I recalled the lessons I had learned: ‚Äúprove yourself‚Ķknow your craft.‚ÄĚ I knew by far my best work up till that point in time had been 9 Eleven. So with my own personal money, I took the leap to submit it to as many film festivals as I could. Somewhat surprisingly, it became recognized, receiving 10 awards, and my work was applauded. This opened doors and I got numerous supporting roles as well as a lead role for the feature film, On Golden Years with prominent Indian Actor, Ranjit Choudary. I played his wife, a 55 year old lady. The movie‚Äôs about immigrants who worked hard to achieve the American Dream and now find them retired, elderly, reminiscing about their country of birth.

I followed this work with my own short film Samosa and submitted it to film festivals. We ended up winning 5 awards and I won the Best Actress award at The People’s Film Festival. So in my lifetime, I have accomplished two of my major goals: one as an actress and other as a humanitarian.

Thanks for sharing your background, Jyoti.¬†I have also seen the trailer for your upcoming film; “The Dignified Princess”. Please fill us in on the full details of this film. How was this feature conceived? What is it all about? What is your specific role in the production?

Yes, that teaser, of course, was made by Vick Krishna himself. ‚ÄúThe Dignified Princess‚ÄĚ was my sister‚Äôs (Gauri Singh‚Äôs) idea. She always wanted to make a film on my grandmother‚Äôs life. It is basically a story about her journey as a woman in 1930‚Äôs and her struggles. So my sister wrote the screenplay, and then the script. All I wanted to do was act in this film. Never really intended to produce or direct, or to work as a production manager. But as time went along, about a year and a half, the project seemed stuck, and nothing was moving along. Since I intensely wanted to act in it, I pushed for it. So, I decided to finance it, even with a low budget.

Where is the film being shot? Is any of the film being shot in the United States?

Since this film is about an Indian royal family, to shoot in the USA was not possible. To get that palace setting here would be so expensive…the money we didn’t have. We knew a majority of the film would have to be shot in India. Since we come from Maihar, Madhya Pradesh, where my ancestors and relatives still own the palace, we decided to shoot in India. I had spoken to my cinematographer and that was it! We jumped in & found ourselves at the palace. But one of our Uncles, whose son is a major TV producer in India, told us to come and check out his son’s shooting sets, close to Mumbai. We told him we only had limited funds, probably just enough to pay the crew. When we actually saw the sets, our mouths dropped, they were beautiful! So our many thanks to Contiloe Entertainment for giving us access to such a wonderful royal location.

There was one particular scene, which we had planned to shoot in the US, so that scene will be shot here, otherwise, the entire shoot in India is finished.

Have you had any unique challenges with this production?

Yes, it was unique indeed. Firstly, I have actually never worked in India. I am Indian but lived more of my life in US. So, of course, I don’t understand the system. There is a hierarchy system present, which I learned pretty fast. So knowing I have little control as a woman and knowing how people were ripping me off, I faced obstacles every day. Secondly, it is not easy for traditional Indian men to handle orders from a woman, often younger than themselves. Thirdly, it was a challenge to work with different teams who were simultaneously shooting other TV shows on the same sets…to arrange the schedule. We had to work around their schedule, that was a pain. Getting actors, arranging their travel, managing everything, accounting/money, directing and acting…boy, my plate was more than full!

I remember I hardly had any sleep. I am glad I had my cinematographer, Jigme Tenzing, and my sister, Gauri Singh, Vibhu Raghav who helped me immensely in this journey. Gauri did costumes and sets and was also assistant director. The crew was good, which was so helpful. They saw us struggle and saw our motivation and did their best to help us.

Can you tell that I am extremely thrilled about this? What are your plans for the release of this movie?

Well, interestingly I hardly went in with any planning besides motivation to shoot. I still have to shoot connecting scenes, which we are doing soon. After that, we work on music and dubbing. It will still be few more months. Probably close to the end of the year the movie will be ready. Then the hopes are to show the film to some investors, in hopes the film will be picked up. I do believe it should release in theatres. If not, there are always film festivals.

¬†How are you getting the word out about “The Dignified Princess” film?

We will definitely focus on marketing, once we have the product. So far what we are doing is giving out a little bit of information every now and then. Some will say the movie loses steam, others will say, it keeps people interested. But yes, when the time is right, we will go all out.

What is your ultimate goal for the movie? What is the extent of the reach that you would like it to accomplish?

It is an international film. I do want to gain back the money I used for the film. At least even out. Film is a risky business, I am not a producer. Short films are easy in the sense, you know the market for it. Full features, on the other hand, can go either way. God willing it will do well. At least in my mind I will never have regret, the ‚Äúwhat if?‚ÄĚ thought. At least I took the chance. Rest is up to the viewers to decide. Not just for me, for all the people who have worked hard on this project. It is never one person, it is the whole team together who wins when the film does well.¬†¬† So good luck to all of us.

How can everyone learn more about “The Dignified Princess” today?

Well, right now I have not created a website. But we do have a Facebook page where we regularly add updates as things get closer to release time and we will soon also have an IMDB page and website. Everyone can also check out “The Dignified Princess” teaser¬†here on YouTube.¬†

So what’s next? What are you “cooking up” for the near future?

Well, that is one thing about me. I take it as it goes. Next, is finishing ‚ÄúThe Dignified Princess‚ÄĚ. Wrapping up the film and then postproduction.

The other thing is I will have to join the union (SAG) soon, as I acted in a TV serial ‚ÄúThe Slap‚ÄĚ as principal role of Pharmacist. Since it had speaking lines, the next time I work on SAG project that is a requirement.

Good for you on snagging that speaking role on a national TV show! Please share your thoughts on the Local Independent Film Industry? Do you think that it is a well-oiled machine, or can it stand some tweaking?

Well, I am from NYC, where yes things are done. I have shot stuff locally in this area for a while now. In fact, my career pretty much picked up from here. I have worked with several independent film directors in this area. Of course, the person I closely work in this area with is Vick Krishna. I think the industry is getting bigger in this area, with more filmmakers and film festivals coming up. Glad the market for independent cinema is more accessible, but being international actors, and being in independent cinema, I think what is lacking is the distribution of independent films. We have film festivals, but what after? Р that is the question!

I hear Ya! Which national and international filmmaker, and/or screenwriter, and/or actress has been an inspiration for you?

I have always looked up to Mira Nair, as I had seen her films growing up in the international market. It was inspiring. Because when I started acting, I hardly got any auditions in 2009. I think Slumdog Millionaire opened doors for Indian Actors. Then Deepa Mehta, also has made inspiring films. Water is one that stays close to my heart. And as an actor, Birdman…what an artistic work, go Alejandro González.

So, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years as it pertains to filmmaking?

Well as an actress, I feel I can play any kind of role. To me, acting is a passion. Filming…I was never a filmmaker, I only intended to act. As for the future, I was never a person who planned things, I take it as things come to me. I like the balance between life and work. I believe in staying positive, but I never did this for name and fame in the first place. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to be able to accomplish my goals. Thankful for my Husband, my family, and some friends, who have supported me wholeheartedly. What I have learned is, we never know where life takes us, so best is to stay focused, positive, and hope for the best. Life is short, I rather stay humble, and hope my talent is recognized only if I deserve it. Hopefully, my work can touch people in some way or the other.

What are your long-term goals in this industry?

I just plan to act, when time permits. I have been lucky to attain what I have in such short time. Hopefully, I am able to work on projects that inspire people, touch their hearts and soul so they can laugh, cry, or feel something when they watch my work.

What advise would you give to others with a similar talent, and desire to make their mark as an actor and/or filmmaker?

Know your craft. Some people are gifted, others have to work hard. Stay positive, because challenges will come, and so will disappointments. Also, never forgot, be humble. ‚ÄúNever forget who you meet on your way up because you will meet the same people on your way down.‚ÄĚ My cousin, Chandrachur Singh, a highly respected Bollywood actor, taught me this.

Jyoti, I am inspired by your talent, creativity, and drive. What else would you like to share with us about Jyoti Singh that may surprise us?

Well, as I’ve said, my second passion is helping people, so many less fortunate, so many in need across the world. So I am a Co-founder of a non-profit we call RVP Charitable Organization. I need to spend more time in it.

As a hobby, I also train in Hindustani classical music & love to sing.

I love to cook and experiment while I cook.

That is some good stuff! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Any final words?

First of all, ¬†I wanted to thank you. Also want to thank my teachers, directors, My Parents, Husband & my Sisters. All the people who have supported and believed in me. Want to thank all my fans, I never thought I would have them, but I do and all the 200 people waiting on Facebook to be accepted as friends. Thank you for looking me up and for supporting my work. It takes courage to make a fool out of yourself in front of people, I have been there a lot, so all I will tell people is ‚Äúnever give up; there is always something better out there. Life is short, so follow your dreams if you can.‚ÄĚ


Peace to you too Jyoti. I wish you much success with “The Dignified Princess” and everything that you put your hands to. Your non-profit work is admirable, and I hope that it makes a tremendous difference in the lives of those it impacts. Thank you for being an inspiration today.¬†

Everyone I hope that you enjoyed this story about yet another phenomenal talent. Thank you for viewing this article. I look forward to welcoming you back next week.


USA Film Release:

May 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, & 31st.
Show times:  12:00, 2:30, 5:00, 7:30 & 10:00
June 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, & 7th
Times: 1:30pm, 4pm, 6:30pm, & 8:45pm
Jyoti Singh


On Set – “The Dignified Princess”¬†


Jyoti Singh 






Local Independent Film Spotlight: Vick Krishna

Welcome back friends! This week I would like to introduce you to Vick Krishna. Once again, I am thrilled to present  another local filmmaker who is making an indelible mark on the local Рand even international Рfilm industry.

I came into contact with Vick’s stellar work on Valentine’s weekend. I had the opportunity to view his recent romantic short film¬†“onLove: A Modern Love Story”. I was immediately impressed with the acting, the production quality, and the story telling. I was drawn into the mini-movie from the get-go. For those who haven’t seen it I don’t want to give it all away and spoil this treat for you, but there are pleasant surprises that make it all that much more enjoyable.

Furthermore, I am going to let Vick tell you more about this film, himself, and his career as a whole. So please go ahead, and read on to learn more…

Hello Vick, so I just had to talk with you after viewing your short film, “onLove: A Modern Love Story”. It was engaging, and visually appealing. Tell us how you came up with the concept.

Thank you Diane! The concept came to me noticing how we can interact with our friends and families pretty much anywhere as long we are connected. That sense of true loneliness is gone these days. We are always ‚Äúin-company‚ÄĚ despite being digital.

I thought that you did an excellent job of going from reality, to “life online”, and back — Did you have any challenges producing this short? If so, what were they?

The challenge is always time as we shot the weekend before Valentine’s and I had only 2 shoot days and about 3 days to edit in order to release before Valentine’s Day. Some of the editing techniques (transitions) used are ones I have never attempted, so it was learning and executing all at once.

For those who haven’t seen “onLove” just yet, where can they view it?

They can see the film at this link . http://youtu.be/740YHKbQ2WU .

¬†Let’s go on to talk about your body of work. I have seen a variety online. Please fill us in on your resume — on your work overall.

So far I’ve been avid in making short films. I’ve directed/written/produced/edited 6 short films of my own. Along with that I’ve freelanced on several projects from being a production assistant, editor, assistant director, and even acting.

Where, and when did it all begin?

I’ve always loved movies from a young age. Around high school I was part of the Morning Announcements team and that exposed me to cameras and filming. I was also active in my high-school theatre, which got me into acting. Both of these solidified my interest behind and in front of the camera and I began making videos for fun trying to learn the craft.

Do you have a favorite film that you have worked on—a “passion project” if you will?

All of the ones I’ve worked on have unforgettable experiences. It so hard to pick a favorite. Each film is an adventure for me, where I get to be part of a family with the crew and actors. They all have their special moments in my life.

What is your favorite aspect of filmmaking? Is it directing, writing — tell us more?

My favorite aspect would have to be directing. It is at that stage where you finally see everything you had in your head and envisioned, in real life. It’s a great feeling to see the words come to life and you can begin the action.

What’s the ultimate goal, that you would like to attain to in the global film industry?

My goal is to simply tell a great story. Stories can do many things. They can motivate, inspire, make you cry, make you laugh, excite, scare, teach and feel something. I want to do those things well with my stories.

That is fantastic Vick! What are your thoughts about the local independent film enterprise? РWhere is there need for improvement?

I think the local independent enterprise is thriving with new talents, and it’s so great that the technology to make films is now affordable so we can participate. The need for improvement might just be to continue to learn.

Personally speaking I don’t have any film school background. I learned by watching and making films. You don’t want to rush into something you don’t know anything about so take your time to learn so you can do it right. I still have so much I want to learn about visual graphics/cgi/animation, all of which could help me tell my story better.

Well your work is a fabulous testament of what self-motivation can do. Tell us about some other local filmmakers whose work you admire.

There are several great filmmakers here and some those I would like to mention are, Mike Kravinsky (Geographically Desirable), Anthony Greene (The Henchman’s War), Venu Nakshathram (The Otherside), Cisco Davis Jr. ( Zordon of Eltar: A Power Rangers Fan Film), Manan Katohora (Public Relations).

Do you have a favorite national, and international, director and/or screenwriter?

National: Spielberg & Tarantino

International: Manirathnam & Miyazaki

Screenwriter: Tarantino

Did you have a favorite on Oscar night?

“Birdman” all the way!

Which film, and actor were you pleased won an Academy Award?

I‚Äôm very pleased with the “Birdman” and Patricia Arquette winning.

Were there any disappointments for you that night?

Perhaps for Best Sound Editing if at all anything.

I gotcha! Now back to you, and your wonderful talents…What are you working on presently?  

Presently I‚Äôm working on editing a feature-length movie currently titled ‚ÄúThe Dignified Princess‚ÄĚ produced by Jyoti Singh.

Oh! I can’t wait to see that, and talk to Jyoti Singh about that project. We’ll fill everyone in on that soon but, how do you usually showcase your projects. Is it mostly online?

I usually just put it online. I just want to share my story with as many people as possible.

Vick, I am so happy that I got to talk with you. Thank you very much. You are the reason, I do the “Local Independent Film Spotlight”. Any final words?

Keep making films and telling your stories. And thank you Diane and the Local Independent Film Spotlight for taking the time to appreciate the local talent. We new filmmakers thrive on your words of encouragement to keep going.

¬†Awe! Thank you!¬†How can¬†everyone¬†keep abreast of all the imaginative, and creative work that you’re doing?

They can subscribe to my YouTube Channel


This was absolutely my pleasure Vick. The local filmmaking, and acting talent is rich…very rich. I sincerely get charged up to enlighten our community about the wealth of performance and entertainment treasure it possesses.

Thank you for joining us today. Stay tuned for another remarkable feature next Wednesday, right  here!

Vick Krishna


“onLove: A Modern Love Story” Poster





Local Independent Film Spotlight: Karen Elle

I know that you’re going to enjoy reading about this gifted young woman. The first time Karen Elle grabbed my attention was¬†when she stood up at one of our church group meetings and read a monologue she had written about her real, relatable and down-to-earth interactions with God. This was not your usual religious exchange. Oh No! Instead, Karen personalized her communication in a manner that was comparable to blatantly¬†chatting with a close friend. It was gritty…it was candid, and I loved it!

Anyway, my take-away was that Karen Elle was someone special…unique, and “outside-the-box” – in a really good way. I later learned that Karen was an actress, and that we had much in common as we pursued careers in entertainment arts. ¬†Naturally, this drew us closer, and it is my honor to present Ms. Karen Elle…

…Read this descriptive interview¬†to learn ¬†everything about this show-stopping talent.

Hello Karen, it is GREAT to get to talk with you, and chat about your growing prowess as an actress in the DMV. Please tell us where it all began — How old were you, and how did you know you were destined to be an actress?

I don’t remember the exact moment, but it happened at a young age. My first love was writing. I’d always loved to write stories. But somewhere along the line the acting bug bit me, and I’ve been in love with it ever since.

What was, and where did your very first acting experience take place?

Picture it: Dayton, Ohio. Early nineties. I was huddled in a makeshift brick house, trembling in a pink turtleneck, pink jeans, and a pig mask. I was trembling not from fear of the Big Bad Wolf, but from the excitement of being in the moment. Nah, it wasn‚Äôt that deep. I was only in second grade and when I had my first stage role as Pig #2 in some school play adaptation of¬†The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf.¬†That was my first formal acting experience. But I‚Äôd had plenty of practice before then‚ÄĒlike the times I‚Äôd break something or eat cake I wasn‚Äôt supposed to, and act like I didn‚Äôt know anything when my mom asked me about it.

You’re currently involved with a stage play at the Silver Spring Stage, and we really want to hear all the details in just a few moments, but tell us about the acting work you’ve been involved with.

Well, my most recent show was Amrika Chalo! (Destination USA) with Ajoka Theatre Company, a very reputable theatre company in Pakistan. Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics brought the company here to do two performances (another was added because it sold out like milk before a snow day). I and four other local actors had the privilege of being in this production. That experience was so enriching. I learned a lot about Pakistan, about US-Pakistani relations. I learned some Urdu, and I made some great friends.
Also, I had the opportunity to be in DC Yuppies, a web series about seven friends who live, work, and play in DC and the drama that ensues. That was a lot of fun. I’ve done mostly theatre, and the only film experience I have done a couple of short student films, so with DC Yuppies I learned more about acting on camera. including advice from my cast mates, who had more film experience. You can watch the series at www.dcyuppies.tv or on the B.E. Cre8ive channel on YouTube. New episodes drop every Wednesday.
I have been in two other productions at Silver Spring Stage: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot in 2011. I played St. Monica, Simon the Zealot, and one of the centurions. Even though St. Monica was fun, my favorite character was Simon the Zealot. I gave the character a Tinidadian accent‚ÄĒwell, I attempted to. I met with a Trini friend who said I sounded more Antiguan, and everyone else thought I was Jamaican. But it was cool to do that. I also played Perfect Love and other characters in Arabian Nights last spring. That show was a beast. I had to dance, and I was supposed to have a solo. I ended up singing so low so the audience couldn‚Äôt hear me. Ha ha.
I was a part of the Hope Operas (2014), Capitol Fringe Festival (2010, 2012), the Delaware Fringe Festival (2011), the DC Black Theatre Festival (2011, 2012). I wrote and produced my first stage play in the 2011 DCBTF. That was awesome. I was in DC’s inaugural One Minute Play Festival that premiered at Roundhouse Theatre last summer. That was really cool. I’ve been in a couple of productions of the Vagina Monologues. The first time I did that show I felt empowered and proud to be a woman and unashamed of my lady parts. I’ve been in a few play readings.

Now please fill us in on your current project coming up at Silver Spring Stage.

The production I’m currently rehearsing for is 33 Variations. It is a very interesting show. It takes toggles between present day New York and 19th century Austria and mainly focuses on Katherine Brandt, an esteemed musicologist and Beethoven aficionado. She is struggling with a paper she is writing on him and also suffering from ALS. She has a daughter who tries to connect with her and spend time with her, but Katherine is hard to love. Then in 19th century Austria, Beethoven is experiencing the denouement of his own career and health. He grapples with his own demons and his musical genius.
I am enjoying working on this show, even though it has its challenges. The director, Natalia Gleason, has a big vision for it. A unique vision, and I think it will make the show work beautifully.
The show opens Friday, February 27th (with pay-what-you-can previews on Thursday, February 26th) and runs through March 21st. There are two Sunday matinée performances on March 8th and 15th at 2:00 p.m.

What’s your role in this on-stage drama?

I play Clara Brandt, Katherine’s daughter. She wants to love her mother, but her mother pushes her away. This role is particularly challenging because there are some moments that require me to be emotional. I haven’t really had a dramatic role before, but I appreciate the challenge, because it stretches me and helps me become a better performer.

How can we get tickets to see this enlightening performance?

Tickets are $20, and you can get them online at ssstage.org. You can also buy them at the door. Goldstar.com has discounted tickets for $10.

Moving forward, what future acting gigs are you preparing for?

I am working on a TV pilot about Capitol Hill. I’m praying for success with that. I am looking forward to Season 2 of DC Yuppies. I’d like to participate in Monologue Madness this year. I do want to go to an acting conservatory, so I’ll be preparing to apply for programs that begin next year. Other than that, I don’t have anything lined up for the moment. I’ll just keep my eyes peeled for auditions and other opportunities as they come. I want to do more film projects, so I’ll be auditioning for those. Oh, and I will prepare for the future unknown acting gigs by taking classes to help me become a better performer.

What is your dream role. What character, if it became available to you Рanywhere in the country Рyou would just have to be there to audition for?

Well, one of my dream roles is to play Grown Nala in the Lion King on Broadway. Last year I could’ve auditioned for that, but I’m not a singer or much of a dancer, so….However, I’ll risk making someone’s ears bleed to audition for the role of Carmen Jones. I would love to have that role.
If there is a reboot of A Different World, I’d definitely be in the number for that! I‚Äôll audition for any character‚ÄĒespecially one like Freddie Brooks.

How do you view the local independent film industry?

I‚Äôm learning more about the industry itself, but I love independent films. I‚Äôm excited about those filmmakers who churn out masterpieces on small budgets. To me, some of the stories told seem more substantial and genuine. Also, there seems to be more opportunities to see people who doesn’t fit a particular aesthetic. I aspire to be in independent films someday.

Do you have a favorite local independent film?

Sons of the City, directed by Marcus Richardson.

You’re a very creative individual who also pens scripts for others, personal monologues, and so much more. Do you have plans to write a film, documentary, stage play or other?
There are a couple of plays I want to write, one of which I’ve been wrestling with for years. Maybe when I finally sit my hind parts down I can churn them out. I have an idea for a web series that I’m working on.
I do write some scripts and monologues for skits at my church, as you know ūüôā . I enjoy using my gift in that way.

Yes, we work on video and stage performance scripts together at The Bridge DC. Now, please share your ultimate dreams and aspirations as an actress, and writer.

I would like to win a few Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, and Golden Globes, but overall, I desire to create awesome work. I want to be the best actress I can be, and bring such truth, talent, and power to the roles I have, that they resonate deeply with anyone who watches. Same with the plays I pen. I want to tell powerful stories that create a positive force in this world.
I would love to work with Ava DuVernay. I heart her work.

Now to a more national focus; as the 2015 Oscar Awards approach this coming Sunday, do you have a favorite film, or actor, or actress that you are rooting for?

Oh yes. I’m rooting for Selma. It was fantastic. I love Birdman, and I hope Michael Keaton and Emma Stone walk away with the little golden man.

There has been lots of controversy around “Selma” director, Ava DuVernay not receiving the best director nomination for this film, although the film was nominated “best film”. As a woman in “The Biz”, what is your opinion on the full matter?

I wish I could let my facial expression answer this question.
Selma was a great film. Ava is a fantastic director‚ÄĒI‚Äôve seen some of her other films. While an Academy Award is a great honor, it is not the only honor one can receive.. I think her talent speaks for itself. Just because she‚Äôs not in the running for best director doesn‚Äôt mean she‚Äôs not a great director. It doesn‚Äôt mean she won‚Äôt stop making great films. There are other spaces where she can win an¬†award like that.
Furthermore, there have been talented directors, actors, crew members, and great films that didn’t get nominated or win an Academy Award for whatever reason. They don’t need validation from the Academy to prove that their work is magnificent.

Well said! Karen you are a fascinating young woman with immense talent. It has been such a joy speaking with you. Any final words?

Thank you! I am humbled that you wanted to interview me. Even though I am not where I want to be in my acting career, I am grateful for the journey, and I look forward to what’s to come!

That is what Local Independent Film Spotlight is all about! How can we keep abreast of all the remarkable work you’re doing as an actress, and writer?

You can follow me on Twitter–@actrizkarenelle. I also am in the process of setting up a Facebook Page, Karen Elle and a Twitter account. I will launch a web site later this year.

Thanks again Karen! It’s been fun, and enlightening!¬†

There you have it everyone; another remarkable Local Independent Film Spotlight individual. You wouldn’t want to miss more stories about other phenomenal talent residing, and creating, right here in the DMV area. See you next Wednesday!

Karen Elle





Local Independent Film Spotlight: Aimee Schlectman

This week ¬†I am ¬†excited, and ¬†proud, to introduce you to Aimee Schlectman. ¬†Who is ¬†Aimee Schlectman, you asks? She is a self-driven, highly talented, quite interesting, and loads of fun to work with, kind of Gal. I worked with Aimee on the acclaimed “City of Lost Souls” crime drama. I observed as she meticulously combed over each scene in the script, cataloged each item needed to dress the film’s characters, and the indoor, and outdoor sets alike, into her huge binder.

You see Aimee was our Wardrobe and Props expert. Beyond the glamour of the lights, camera and accomplished actors, there is a person (or team) who feverishly works to pull the minute details together. Aimee led her eager team, to do just that.

Stick around to learn more about this unique movie professional…

Hello there Aimee, you have a very important role in the film industry. How do you precisely describe what you do?

I do Wardrobe/ Prop Styling for film & TV. ¬†I interpret scripts and convey the words into the actor‚Äôs wardrobe. I assist bringing the Directors/ Writers vision to life through wardrobe. ¬†After I break down a script, I visualize the characters wardrobe from jewelry to the handbag/brief case they carry. ¬†From the smallest detail of name initial necklace to an Over the Top Gold Encrusted Diamond Jesus Pendant a Pimp would wear. It ¬†becomes an extension of the characters’ persona.

Within the last 5 years, I have added Prop styling to my repertoire.  Prop styling allows me another opportunity to design scenes that are more realistic and believable.  Not only do Props assist the actors into character it is extremely creative.  From; faux ice cubes to watered down coffee (used as scotch), duffel bags filled with Cocaine and briefcases stuffed with faux Money. It is the art of making it look credible and genuine.

How long have you been fitting actors for costumes, and dressing film sets?

The film industry is my Second career.

I studied Fashion Design in college and have a Degree in it. I worked in the fashion industry after college in NY/LA. After realizing, it was not as creative as I thought it would be-I switched gears and entered corporate America. After many years of Grey business suits and smart practical shoes, I realized I was not fulfilling my creative dreams. ¬†I began classes at FIT (In NYC). After a few classes at FIT, I landed an intern position on an indie feature film with some named talent. It was not a glamorous position. ‚ÄďI kept fire watch on the back of the Wardrobe truck in the middle of summer and ran errands for The Costume Designer. I saw and experienced a lot, got my first taste of movie magic ‚Äď I was hooked.

Why do you love doing what you do?

This industry is not for the faint of heart. The days are long; they start early and end late. I love doing this job – I remind myself especially on days when the alarm is set for 4:00 a.m. A day on set always trumps a a day in the office.

I love being a wardrobe/prop stylist. Its SUPER artistic, I get to hang out with other misfits like myself and get opportunities to work with talented accomplished folks… No one does this job for the glamour or Money. You do it because you love making movies

Ain’t that the truth! Please describe the type of projects, you have worked on.

I have worked on Feature films, commercials, music videos, TV series, short films, training videos and a few print ads…

What has been your most memorable or favorite project thus far?

My favorite project was an 80‚Äôs period Feature Film. It was based on a female DJ starting her career out in NYC in the early 80‚ÄĚs. I had a crew of 3 and we did tons of extensive thrift store shopping/hunting ,borrowing from up and coming designers and creating custom made logo T-shirts. ¬†We had a small budget and that added to the creativity. Unfortunately, shooting stopped mid-shoot because the Producer embezzled the funds, BUT¬†the Wardrobe was amazing.

What are you working on right now? What great creations are you pulling together for the project?

Currently I am in talks with a couple different Directors about my next project… I just finished some commercial work. It was an ad for Washington Gas.¬† I was privileged to work on their new rebranding ad campaign. If you ride the metro, keep an eye out for the posters!

Nice! I will be sure to do that Aimee! Where does your motivation to do what you do come from?

I remind myself that I am doing exactly what I want, and love to be doing… Lawyers do not get that excited telling you about their latest case -do they?

Do you have a film whose costuming, and/or set design was particularly impressive to you?

“Casino”, “American Hustle”, the “Wrestler”, the “Sopranos”. I love the opulence and the tackiness!

Do you have a favorite film among this year’s Oscar nominated films?

“American Sniper” and “Whiplash” are my two favorites

Why are those your favorite?

I loved “American Sniper” for its superbly subtle critique, made by Mr. Eastwood. I admire our brave soldiers so much and this film salutes the honest work of all soldiers. It is also an interesting twist to see what happens to these brave men and woman when they return home.

What are your thoughts on the local independent film industry? Do you believe that it is growing…thriving?

I do not think there is enough local independent work for the DC/MD area. I know Richmond gets a fair amount, but I do not want to travel 2 hours¬†(from Bethesda) to a film set. I wish they would shoot more local shows here. We have “VEEP” and “House of Cards” but something right here in DC would be fantastic. Perhaps “Law and Order” – DC Style. That would be awesome! Do you think Dick Wolf is reading this?

I sure hope he is! If you could adjust the independent film industry in the DMV area, so that it is a well-oiled machine, where would you make those adjustments?

My suggestions would be; to shoot more movies here and use local crew. We need the work and we are very talented.

We are indeed! What advice would you give to someone who has a desire to break into the movie business with similar gifting to your own?

It takes a long time to get a steady amount of work. You need a second job or live at home. The money ensues but not for a while. If you do not love the craft or do not love being on a film set (they are not all indoors and warm) this is not the industry for you!

Please describe yourself in three words?

Energetic, Professional and Creative. (Does not have to be in that order)

How can we keep abreast of all the fabulous work you are doing?

Most of my work is on IMDB…Just check me out HERE! 

 Aimee as usual, you have been a blast! Any final words?

 Thank you for the interview… My final last words… Stop having the Hair and Make-up crew do WARDROBE!

Loud, and clear Aimee, we – and filmmakers everywhere – hear you loud and clear.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences with us. We have learned a great deal. It only gets better from here. Onward, and Upwards. Cheers!

Well there you have it. – Another engaging¬†story from a local talent in the film industry. Thanks for checking in, and be sure to return next Wednesday for another “Local Independent Film Spotlight”!¬†


Aimee Schlectman “Dressing”¬†a Scene of “City of Lost Souls”


Aimee Schlectman Hard At Work




Local Independent Film Spotlight: David Walsh

It is great to have you back for another installment of “Local Independent Film Spotlight” (LIFS). This week I am pleased to present David Walsh.

I was very impressed with David the first time I witnessed him in action at the table read, led by filmmaker Eulonda Kay Lea, for her impending¬†feature film. I had read the script ahead of the event, and David matched the lead character impeccably, as he brought it to life. When I met the affable gentleman following the reading performances, I said to myself; “That David Walsh is going to be a headliner someday”.

Read on to get to know David, and you will see what I mean. I can already guess, that you wouldn’t be able to help¬†being swept up by his self-possessed charm and talent, not to mention learn a great deal from his experiences.

David, how are you doing – having a busy acting life?

I am well, not terribly busy on the acting front, but am in the process of launching a career doing voiceovers.

Voiceovers huh? That’s a special sort of performance in itself. How long have you been acting professionally?

Well there was about a 10 year gap that I wasn’t acting at all‚ÄĒjust had a demanding day job that didn‚Äôt allow me the luxury. But I would say I have spent 10-15 years doing stage work, both paid and unpaid, professional and ‚Äėnon-professional‚Äô.

What inspired you to get involved with this craft?

I think it was a combination of a few things: 1) an affinity for foreign languages and cultures, resulting in a curiosity about people in general; 2) a love of films; 3) I couldn‚Äôt understand why everyone didn‚Äôt want to know what it was like to ‚Äúwalk in someone else‚Äôs shoes‚ÄĚ.

Where did you secure your performance training?

I took a few acting classes in college and then just started doing theater, whether it was paid or not. Work is work, experience is experience, and that’s the best training you can get. I would also say that doing as much Improv work as possible really helps free me as an artist and helps build confidence.

I agree! Nothing compares to “hands-on” training. Please fill us in a bit on your resume.¬†

Most of my experience has been on stage. I’ve done a lot of character parts and supporting roles, a fair amount of Shakespeare, some chorus work in musicals ( not a triple threat here, but can carry a tune, I guess ;-)) Love to do ensemble work and am a big supporter of ‚Äúthe supporting actor‚ÄĚ, as I feel they have less of the script to rely on in developing character.

What is the most memorable performance of your career?

I think that‚Äôs a toss up between a comic role I had many years ago on stage as Leon in “The Wake of Jamey Foster” and a role that I performed last year in a reading of a dramedy screenplay by a local screenwriter.

Do you have a future dream role that you desire to get the part for?

That role I mentioned for the dramedy screenplay‚ÄĒI just feel I empathized, understood and loved the character, even though on the surface we aren’t that similar.

What is it about the local, DMV independent film industry that you absolutely love, and applaud?

I think that although that market had grown in this area, it is still fairly friendly and not cut-throat. I think more and more people are participating and this ultimately only be a good thing as far as diversity of cultures and viewpoints.

Do you have any criticism about the local film industry? Where is there room for improvement?

I think that whatever red tape can be eliminated and incentives given to production companies, while maintaining the security that many landmarks require should be encouraged.

If you had the opportunity to pack your bags today, and fulfill your acting career, for the remainder of your life without any gaps, in Hollywood, would you leave this area?

Well I‚Äôve been in DC for half my life and have established community here. That said I am not ‚Äėmarried‚Äô to DC and would consider all options if such an opportunity arose.

Do you have a specific genre of film that you enjoy acting in the most? Comedy? Suspense? Horror? Romance? Other?

I think my favorite genre would be comedy, but good comedies are hard to come by and sometimes I feel I have the right timing, and sometimes I’m off.

What acting performance are you gearing up for these days?

I have an audition on Tuesday for a group that will be doing performances in various media‚ÄĒon film, voice overs, and stage.

Do you enjoy writing, and developing projects as well? If so, are you currently working on one?

I do dabble a bit, procrastinate a bit and pick up the laptop again. I have both a comedy and a dramedy love story I am working on.

What advice would you give someone just starting out as an actor in the DMV area, and has big hopes and dreams to make a name for themselves.

I would say to join The Actors Center, Women in Film and Video (not just for women!) and join any open Facebook group for actors/filmmakers that you can. To take whatever work you feel would be worth your time‚ÄĒpaid or not. Take as many classes as you can, particularly Improv. One can never learn enough.

As we draw near to Oscar night on February 22nd, do you have a favorite film, and actors whom you are rooting for?

Of the nominated films I’ve seen, so far I really loved “The Grand Budapest Hotel”‚ÄĒit was my kind of quirky, and ‚Äėeveryone‚Äô one was in it. I also loved “Birdman” and the way it was directed‚ÄĒKeaton and Emma Stone, and Edward Norton were great. I haven‚Äôt seen ‚ÄúStill Alice‚ÄĚ yet but Julianne Moore deserves an Oscar in general. If Patricia Arquette were not in the supporting actress category, I would give the award to (Meryl) Streep for ‚ÄúInto the Woods‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒthere‚Äôs virtually nothing she can‚Äôt do.

Please describe yourself in 3 words.

Sensitive, Curious, Funny

How can readers connect with you, and keep up with your wonderful accomplishments?

As of now, Facebook, but will be relaunching my website soon.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me David. I’ve always enjoyed working with you. Any final words?

Thank you, Diane! Keep fighting the good fight and always use your creative side!





















Local Independent Film Spotlight: Alicia Beth Dawson

When I met this week’s Local Independent Film Spotlight (LIFS)¬†candidate, Alicia Beth Dawson was reading lines with actors who were auditioning for Jason Baustin’s crime-drama “City of Lost Souls” – which I also assisted on. Little did I know then that Alicia’s talents did not stop at acting. While working on the film, Alicia was also professionally beautifying our actors with make-up. As we got to know each other further, I learned that she was also a qualified hair stylist, and had screenwriting projects in the works.

Clearly I was fascinated, and impressed. I later got an opportunity to work with Alicia on one of her short film projects, directed by her acting coach, and mentor, Manuel Poblete. It was ridiculously funny, and intelligent…but I won’t give it all away now. Read on to learn about this interesting lady, and her diverse range of skills in the independent film industry.

Who is Alicia Beth Dawson in a nutshell?

In a nutshell…a complete nut! a complete control freak! a definite workaholic!

Whoa! I can imagine. Hairstylist, Make-Up artist, Actor, Writer, you are a quadruple threat in the film production world. With respect to your goals what is your chief focus, of those disciplines, right now?

Right now my chief focus is being a mom, I have a 5 year old son. It is the hardest job I’ve ever had and the most rewarding. Hair is my main focus in the quadruple threat right now. I’m a veteran in the industry and I’ve loved every minute of it. My clients have been very supportive of all my other projects. I even run new movie ideas by them, they all volunteer to be in them! lol.

Alicia, that is very interesting, and cool! I enjoyed working with you on the short film, “Just Listen”, which you wrote, produced, and held the lead role. However,¬†¬†you’ve also written an outrageously hilarious feature with Manuel Pobelte. Tell us about that.

“Just Listen” came about from a conversation I had with my parents. In my casting notices, an audition came through for “Orange is the New Black”, I’m a huge fan, so I wanted to submit for it. I was talking to my mom about it, telling her that I would have to be naked if I got the part. My mother begged me not to tell my father, as he walked in, and the rest turned into “Just Listen”.
Manuel and I have written a hysterical feature length movie that is centered around 5 friends who get themselves into tons of crazy situations…want to say more but I won’t, for now. ūüėČ

Ok, can you at least tell us what your plans are for getting the feature produced?

My plans for getting the film produced… beg! lol. I’m hoping the story and script will draw tons of investors. Manuel already has people interested in the film just by telling them about it. I can’t wait!!!

Sounds good! What are the long term goals for the project? Wide theater release? Straight to DVD? Otherwise?

My goals for the project?..Wow, umm…I would say theater release.

What are your thoughts on film festivals? Do you have interest in taking your on-screen work the film festival route, toward notoriety?

I love film festivals! There are are so many talented filmmakers. It’s a treat to be able to see just a hand full at a festival.
I definitely have an interest in producing on-screen work. As far as notoriety, I love this industry and I love entertaining, so if one person likes my movie then I did my job and I’m a happy girl.

Do you have a specific genre of film that you enjoy writing, and creating the most? Comedy? Horror? Romance?

I love movies, all movies. What is my favorite?..depends on my mood. My dream movie would be the one that I get to incorporate horror, comedy, and romance all in one.

Now that, I can’t wait to see! What passion project are you working on right now?

The passion project I’m working on right now, is one that combines horror, comedy, and romance! lol.
This project is actually the first complete story I wrote. I am also in the middle of a horror story about a hairstylist, it’s taking me a long time to write..I keep scaring myself ūüėČ

That’s hilarious Alicia! What advice would you give someone who has diverse skills like yourself, and wants to break into the entertainment industry?

What advice would I give someone?..Oh my!..I am a complete control freak. I write the scripts, draw the story boards, do hair and makeup, produce the project, act in the movie, and laugh at myself everyday. The only way I can do all this and be Mom is having a positive attitude. I was once at a hair show in Las Vegas. While there, Robert Cromeans made a profound statement; ‘There are no mistakes in hair just discoveries’. I dropped the ‘hair’ and added ‘life.’ I apply it to everything. Of course some discoveries are easier than others, and some are less expensive, but you get the idea…lol.

That truly is inspirational. If you could live out the rest of your life just focusing on one of your gifts, which one would it be, and why?

One gift I would focus on would be writing. I started writing when I was 11, I was fortunate as a child to travel with my Nana. In the airport before our first trip she gave me a journal and said, “this is to write down all your stories from our trip, you can add pictures to it when we get them developed.” That journal became a gateway into my imagination. I have so many journals. I’m not a huge fan of writing on the computer. I would love to be able to sit and write all day.

I can definitely relate. With regards to the local film industry – In your opinion, do you believe that it can prosper outside of L.A. or New York?

I love local independent films. If the stories are good, the acting is strong, and the film has great quality, how could it not prosper. My wish would be for more people to watch independent films, and give them the credit they deserve.

As we seek to know you more Alicia, any final words?

Oh! I’m just getting started!

Alrighty then! Well how can we learn more from you, and stay abreast of all your creativity, and “power moves”?

If you’re in the Elkton, MD area, please feel free to stop by “Envy Spa and Salon” located at 707 north bridge st. Elkton, MD 21921, for a remarkable, and unforgettable hairstyling experience. You can also communicate, and stay abreast with me on Twitter (@aliciabdawson), and/or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/aliciabeth.dawson?ref=ts&fref=ts)

Alicia, chatting with you has been fun! I don’t know how you do it all. We will delve further into that one day soon. In the interim, all the very best with achieving your goals. The good times, have only just begun. Go for the Gold!

Everyone, thanks again for checking in for another Local Independent Film Spotlight. Be sure to return next Wednesday to learn about another interesting and creative individual in our local film world.

Alicia Beth Dawson



Local Independent Film Spotlight: Chad Eric Smith

Welcome back for another¬†Local Independent Film Spotlight. Today I am elated to feature Chad Eric Smith. He is a talented, and brilliant local actor, as well as thrillingly imaginative story teller. After learning about, and viewing his recent short horror comedy film, “Dark Therapy”, I just had to learn more about Chad, and bring his story to you. You would understand what I mean after you’ve seen the witty “Dark Therapy”.

Stay tuned, and read on to learn more about the film, and its upcoming screening on Saturday, January 24th. I am confident that, like myself, Chad’s experiences, and drive will further inspire, and stir up your passion for theater and film.

Chad, how did you get involved with the world of acting, and filmmaking?

When I was 12, my Grandmother took me to the Arena Stage in Washington, DC to see my first play ‚ÄúOak and Ivy,‚ÄĚ which chronicled the loving but strained marriage of two early-20th-century poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore. I left the theater mesmerized by the actors‚Äô performances. I also left determined to perform at the Arena Stage one day. A little while later, my grandmother took me to New York City to see my first Broadway musical, ‚ÄúAnnie Get Your Gun.‚ÄĚ I was again awestruck. While in High School, I became a member of Children‚Äôs National Medical Center‚Äôs theater troupe, Teens Against the Spread of AIDS (TASA). It combined improvisational theater, poetry, and hip hop, to educate our peers, parents, and health professionals about important teen health concerns. All these experiences made me interested in acting once I got to college, and ultimately pursuing acting professionally.
After college, I performed in several short films and at many community theaters throughout the Pittsburgh Metropolitan area. I also was an extra in the big-budget Hollywood films “She’s Out of My League,” “I Am Number Four,” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” My first big role in a feature length film was as the mild-mannered and slightly socially awkward reporter Pete Henderson in the superhero comedy ‚ÄúSquid Man,‚ÄĚ by writer/director Charlie Cline.

How long have you been acting?

I have been acting for a little over 10 years. I’ve been in a total of 18 stage plays, over a dozen independent films, a couple of web series, and a music video.

Wow! What bit you first; the acting bug, or writing and telling stories?

The acting bug bit me first. The first play I performed in was ‚ÄúPicasso at the Lapin Agile,‚ÄĚ by Steve Martin, during my freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The experience of performing in front of a live audience was exhilarating. So, I just kept doing it and loving it more and more. Writing and telling my own stories happened much later.

You have performed a wide range of characters. Your acting wheelhouse is pretty vast. Do you have a favorite character which you have acted? Please fill us in on your acting experiences.

In 2010, I enjoyed playing Walter Lee Younger in the Kuntu Repertory Theatre production of the musical ‚ÄúRaisin‚ÄĚ and was awarded an Oynx Award for ‘Best Leading Actor in a Musical’ by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the African American Council on the Arts (AACTA). That same year, I also won an Oynx Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor in a Musical’ for my role as Wilson Pickett in the New Horizon Theater production of “I Gotcha! The Story of Joe Tex and the Soul Clan.” Those two are a couple of my favorite stage roles because, on top of acting, they both challenged me to sing and dance, things that aren‚Äôt necessarily easy or comfortable for me. In film, my favorite, most gratifying role so far was as a mysterious drifter named Ahmad in the upcoming horror feature film ‚ÄúThe Suffering,‚ÄĚ by LA based filmmaker Rob Hamilton. It was by far my most physically demanding, complex film role. My character is a mix of charisma, madness, and danger. Check out the trailer at http://www.thesufferingfilm.com.

Fantastic! Well, let’s delve into your recent film, “Dark Therapy”, about a vampire with an irrational fear of blood, and seeks psychiatric help as a result. How was the idea for this short horror comedy conceived?

In the summer of 2013, I met local actress Devin Nikki Thomas at a table read for a script by filmmaker Harold Jackson III. Right away, she and I clicked. I thought she was funny. We had a very similar sense of humor and I was impressed by her quick-wit. So, we did what all strangers do right away: We became Facebook friends. We then decided to collaborate creatively. For me, it was an exciting and empowering opportunity to bring to life the type of quirky character I’m attracted to as an actor, and for Devin to be executive producer of her first film through her production company, Unitivity Productions, LLC.

You possess the main role of the Vampire, which was brilliantly performed. However, what was the writing process like? Did the ideas, and dialogue flow naturally, or were there instances of struggle?

Thank you! The idea and dialogue definitely came easy and a lot of it was improvised during filming. I knew right away that I wanted to create a cinematic-looking comedic skit with an improvisational flair, similar to Comedy Central‚Äôs ‚ÄúKey and Peele,‚ÄĚ which I‚Äôm a big fan of. I‚Äôm also a big fan of Johnny Depp because of his knack for playing flamboyant, eccentric characters and I had recently seen him play a vampire in Tim Burton‚Äôs ‚ÄúDark Shadows.‚ÄĚ So, that was my initial inspiration. When I started brainstorming ideas for the first rough draft of the script, I first thought about a skit about 2 vampires who give up blood because they become Jehovah Witnesses. Then, the idea of a vampire with an extreme, irrational fear of blood popped in my head like a lightbulb and Devin was like, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm game.‚ÄĚ I began writing it in November of 2013 and then sent it to Devin and she added to it.

Those are great places to find inspiration. How did you prepare for your role as the Vampire?

I named my vampire character ‚ÄúErebus‚ÄĚ because it is the name of the primordial deity who personifies darkness in Greek mythology. I liked the idea of his name representing something opposite of his harmless, apprehensive, and constantly mortified demeanor. I liked that juxtaposition and irony. I sent the script to Carl Randolph and Robert¬†‚ÄúBob‚ÄĚ Yoho¬†Jr., who were the special effects/make-up artists for ‚ÄúThe Suffering,‚ÄĚ and they really liked it and came on board to help bring Erebus to life. Bob designed realistic-looking, custom-fit fangs for me and Carl did my make-up, nails, and gave me white eye contacts. Devin purchased my blousy shirt and lace front wig. Transforming into Erebus took a little over an hour in the make-up chair and really helped inform my mannerisms and voice.

In the film, it appears that the “fantasy world” collides with the “urban world”. Was this intentional?

Yes. Even the fact that my vampire character is wearing jeans in the film was a conscious choice to collide fantasy with urban. I remember seeing an interview by director John Singleton in which he said that when a filmmaker is very specific culturally, it becomes universal and special. Not to be all deep, but I really like the idea of universality being found within cultural specificity. So, I thought that having urban references, especially references that were very specific to the DMV, with a black vampire as a lead character, would be funny and relatable to many.

The role of the psychiatrist is played by Devin Nikki. She was a natural. What was the approach to this character in the planning stages?

Devin is great as Dr. Anne Rice! Her name is a nod to the popular author of the series of novels The Vampire Chronicles. Devin decided for her character to have a southern accent to make her character quirkier. She was also very meticulous about her character’s appearance, as well.

There is certainly comedy throughout the short, but the horror portion certainly does peek through, including a twist. It is a fair balance. How was this accomplished?

It was certainly a collaborative experience. The original script had a simple comedic ending. When Devin made edits to the script, she added a darker ending and I loved it. It accentuated another idea I was trying to present, the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Omar¬†Juarez (Bad/Splice), our awesome Director of Photography, also edited the film and did some cool color correction that really hit the nail on the head regarding my vision. He was assisted by Manuel Santos. My father, Jonathan Bey, is an Emmy award-winning producer and composed the film‚Äôs original score, making it sound simultaneously quirky and ominous. I told him to think of the music of composer Danny Elfman. Audio engineer Michael Balasia further enhanced the sound of the film and added a few really funny effects. The wonderful performances of actor Niko Tarlay and actress Honey St. Dennis definitely helped emphasize the comedic/horror balance, as well. Everyone really elevated the project superbly, in my opinion, especially considering that we shot the film in a single day.

The comedy film premiered at the West End Cinema in Washington, DC, in October 2014, and later went on to receive awards for the film work, and acting performances. Please tell us a little more about that.

Yes, it premiered at the West End Cinema as part of the 2014 Reel Independent Film Extravaganza. It was a thrilling experience and the audience loved it! There was lots of hearty laughter. The following month, at the National Press Club, the Television, Internet & Video Association of DC (TIVA-DC) awarded Unitivity Productions, LLC a Bronze Peer Award in the “Independent Short” category for ‚ÄúDark Therapy‚ÄĚ and awarded me the Gold Peer Award in the “Acting on Camera – Fiction Male” category. It was a very exciting and gratifying night!

“Dark Therapy” will also be featured at this Saturday’s (January 24th) Rosebud Film & Video Festival, at the Artisphere in Arlington, VA. What is the significance of that for you?

I’m just really happy that it’s continuing to be accepted into film festivals so that people can see it on the big screen. In fact, on that same evening, it will also screen at the Indie Night Film Festival at the world famous TCL Chinese Theatre on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame! I’ll be flying to LA, for the first time, to participate.

How can fans, and avid movie-goers get tickets to attend this weekend’s screening?

Folks in the DMV area can purchase their tickets for the Rosebud Film & Video Festival at https://www.arlingtonmedia.org/rosebud. Ticket’s are $10. If they are in the L.A. area, they can RSVP for the Indie Night Film Festival at http://www.indienightfilmfestival.com/event/3-3/.

What are the extend of your plans for “Dark Therapy”, moving forward?

We have submitted ‚ÄúDark Therapy‚ÄĚ to several film festivals all over the world and expect to get responses throughout the remainder of the year.

In your opinion, what is the forecast for the Independent Film climate in the DMV area? We’re not L.A., New York or even Toronto but do you think that the independent film industry can thrive locally?

Yes, I think the independent film industry can thrive in the DMV. There certainly are lots of talented people in the area. As a DC native, I would like to see more and more filmmakers and producers capturing the images of the diversity and historic landmarks that make the city so great. I do think, though, that DC officials need to do a better job at creating economic incentives to attract more film and TV production companies. From the things I read and hear about, I feel there’s too many jurisdictional and bureaucratic hurdles in DC, which dissuade filmmakers. That in return makes it more challenging for local actors to find high quality, paid gigs to audition for. That’s also part of the reason Devin and I decided to produce our own project.

What advice would you give to budding actors, and storytellers in this area, seeking to recognize their dream of performing and filmmaking?

I would tell actors to be selective about the type of work they choose to be part of. Don‚Äôt compromise your personal integrity just so you can add a credit to your resume. Being an actor is as much about your brand as it is about the craft. And your brand is made up of both what you choose to do and what you choose not to do. I recently saw an interview with actor David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King, Jr. in ‚ÄúSelma,‚ÄĚ and he said something that really resonated with me. He said, “You erode your talent by being in things that are lesser than your talent. You are only as good as what you subject yourself to by way of the material, the people you work with, and the parts you accept.”
I, also, definitely recommend doing theatre. I believe theatre is the best training an actor can receive because it truly is the actor‚Äôs medium. It‚Äôs where the actor has the most say as to how he or she portrays the character he or she has been entrusted with. Plus, the energy one receives from a live audience is an amazing feeling. If you are a film actor, arrive on set on time, know your lines, listen and react to your scene partner, and be cognizant of continuity so the editor will love you. With regards to technique, well, as the late, great comic George Burns once said, ‚ÄúActing is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.‚ÄĚ

Priceless advice! So what’s next for Chad Eric Smith?

My upcoming roles include me as a restaurateur in the feature length romance ‚ÄúLast Night,‚ÄĚ by writer/director Harold Jackson III, a distraught artist in the feature length drama ‚ÄúSecret City Bluz‚ÄĚ by writer/director Ambessa Jir Berhe, and a werewolf suffering with alopecia in the feature length comedy ‚ÄúZombie Ted,‚ÄĚ by writer/director Anne Wells. I‚Äôm also currently writing a new original comedic screenplay.

How can we stay abreast with your actor, and filmmaking work?

The best way to keep updated on what I‚Äôm doing is by ‚ÄúLiking‚ÄĚ my Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/ActorChadEricSmith. People can also follow me on Twitter @ChadEricSmith and Instagram @Chad_Eric_Smith. In addition to being an actor, I‚Äôm also a musician. Some of my music can be heard on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/chad-eric-smith.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me Chad! I would like to wish you much success with “Dark Therapy”, and all your future endeavors. Again, your story is inspiring. I am convinced that the your limitless imagination, and purposeful drive will transport you to your goals, and even further.

To everyone, I highly recommend securing your tickets for this Saturday’s screening of “Dark Therapy”. It is a entertaining treat!
To reiterate: Tickets for the Rosebud Film & Video Festival at https://www.arlingtonmedia.org/rosebud. Ticket’s are $10. If they are in the L.A. area, they can RSVP for the Indie Night Film Festival at http:/www.indienightfilmfestival.com/event/3-3/. 

Chad Eric Smith


Dark Therapy Poster



Local Independent Film Spotlight: Lauren Cash

Welcome to the new Local Independent Film Spotlight. Each Humpday, aka Wednesday, Ladydewriter will feature the interesting personalities which make up the Local Independent Film industry in the DMV.

Today, I am tremendously pleased to introduce Lauren Cash. I first met Lauren at an acting workshop, at Bello Talent Management, in Takoma Park, Maryland which I was assisting with. Since then I’ve admired how she’s made inroads toward accomplishing her goals as an actress, and real player in the independent film world.

Follow my conversation with Lauren below:

Lauren, where are you originally from? 

Originally, I am from Maryland which is where I currently reside today.

What got you interested in acting…where did the inspiration come from?¬†

I got the role of Dorothy in a summer camp play and I just kind of fell in love with the craft of entertaining. It was so fun and just a great way to interact with other people, the whole experience just really inspired me.

How long have you been acting professionally? 

I have been acting for about 5 years now. This is my first time I can fully say that I have a better chance to ‚Äėgo for it‚Äô in a long time since I graduated from Howard University last year. I have proudly put a lot of time into school and I believe education is important.

Did you receive formal acting training? If so, where from?

When I went into acting seriously, it was during college and I didn’t really have any formal training, aside from improvisation groups when I was younger. College is where I started taking classes within Howard University’s Theatre Department, such as Creative Drama. Now I have completed scriptwriting and media production classes via the Communications Department at HU. Currently, Manuel Poblete assists me in acting training within his company, Bello Talent. I am in the works of receiving training from John Pallotta as well.

What are your ultimate goals or aspirations within the world of acting? 

My ultimate goals in the world of acting would be to get recognition and use my talents for the greater good. It would be nice to be able to use my name to further promote campaigns that mean something such as anti-bullying or domestic abuse. Overall, I want to be able to help and communicate with many people.

What roles have you done in the past? 

I‚Äôve played Dorothy from ‚ÄėThe Wizard of Oz,‚Äô a Hispanic bartender, cocktail waitress, assassin, hotel clerk, car buyer, and the girl next door. I‚Äôve also played a drunken girl for a play titled Abandoned as well as the lead in music videos by artists Pro‚Äô Verb and Heron Gibran.

Which one was your favorite role? 

All of these roles were so much fun to play, especially an assassin where I got to hold a prop gun and feel super bad ass! However, my favorite role would have to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz because of that initial feeling of being bitten by the infamous acting bug.

What are you currently working on? 

Currently I am working on my acting skills, and gathering opportunities Рthrough classes and networking events Рas well as writing my own script. We also just wrapped up shooting for that cool, assassin role, for the film Self Control which was a lot of fun! I will be headed to New York for the upcoming Manhattan Monologue Slam as well, which then turns into a networking event. Can’t wait!

Tell us more about the script you’re writing. Are you looking forward to producing your own film?

I think it’s always been in me to be a writer and I would love to produce my own film (aside from the 3 minute short that I wrote and produced for my media production class).

Growing up, I always loved to write. My friends and I used to bring a book to school and write in a story, passing it along to the next friend to read the new part and continue the story with our own style. You never knew what the person before you was going to write, but we did this for a long time throughout middle school. It was refreshing and an experience that would be too cool not too remember. As for the book… we didn’t always write during the most appropriate times in school. Definitely a great experience.

So what current personal project idea are you working on?

I have a project in mind but I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my personal work so I have been grooming this script for two years. It is a drama with a suspense feel to it, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

What advice do you have for someone longing to, but doesn’t know how to break into acting in this area?¬†

I would tell that person to get great headshots because that is the first thing that these casting agencies see when you submit for a role. There are sites also, such as Dragonuk and Pat Moran & Associates which is a great start. Also, don’t be too good to take on an extra role just to see how film shoots are run on a highly, professional level. The hours can be long but it is a great start to get the feel of it all! It is also a great time to network with the fellow actors and sometimes even the production crew!

Rejection is also going to come but it is important to pick your head up and keep it moving. Sometimes we are our worst critics. It is important to work on your craft and find ways to improve because no one is perfect and there is always room for improvement. If you don’t work on your craft, then chances are rejection may know you more than you want it to.

Keep focused, Have confidence and the rest is history!

Thank you Lauren! This is fabulous advice.

I am grateful to Lauren for talking with me this week. Her story is certainly interesting, and I can’t wait to see her grow further. The sky is the limit for Lauren as she strives to use her talent to give back to the community. Cheers Lauren!

Tune in next Wednesday as Ladydewriter highlights another fabulous personality in the local independent film industry.



Life Passages X – New Places

Madeleine slowly gazes at the entire quaint book store with intense curiousity. “Um, Did we travel to another time zone, or what?” Madeleine thought to herself as she concentrated on every graphic novel, with weathered covers, and every antiquated, and used book, and dated magazines.

“Earth calling Maddy, come in Maddy!” Devon says while waving his hands in front of Madeleine’s face.

“Uh?” The startled Madeleine quickly utters.

“You’re back from outer space?” Devon asks in a jovial tone.

Madeleine smiles “Haha. Funny!” She replies. “Where did you find this place?” She asks Devon as she gave the shop another full look over.

“Well Mads…Is it cool if I call you Mads?” Devon asks with a smirk.

“Um…sure.” Madeleine replies eagerly awaiting the rest of his story.

“Cool! This is actually my grandfather’s store.” Devon begins to explain. He’s been collecting graphic novels for a very long time, illustrating and writing them too.”

Madeleine’s eyes opens widely. “You’re telling me that your grandfather is famous?”

“Ahhh, I didn’t say that.” Devon quickly interjects. “He’s always been an artist, and worked for a well known company to help publish kids books for some time, but always wanted his own shop.”

“Wow! This is…this is something.” Madeleine responds.

“Right? Hey, Come meet my Grandad.” Devon says quickly, then grabs Madeleine’s hand to lead her over to meet his Grandfather.

“Hey Grandad!” Devon greets his grandfather who is arranging comic book memorabilia behind the cash register.

“Hey, hey, hey there little Devon.” Devon’s grandfather, Solomon replies, while greeting his grandson with a huge smile and warm hug. Looking up from his embrace, Solomon notices Madeleine. “So who’s this?” He asks Devon.

“Oh! Grandad, this is Madeleine.” Devon introduces her with broad arm strokes resembling a game show assistant.

“Hello Madeleine.” Solomon says as he draws closer to her. “You’re one of Devon’s school friends?”

“Yes sir!” She begins “Well, we go to the same school, but we just met.” She continues.

Solomon chuckles. “Ok. So you’re new friends then.” He announces. “What are you kids up to, today?”

“I wanted to get Mads into some exciting novels Grandad. The ones at the school library have got nothing on these.” Devon proclaims.

Solomon lets out an enormous laugh. “Well let’s see what we can find to satisfy the lady.” He utters, as he gestures Madeleine, and Devon to follow him.

Madeleine continues to gaze around the store in amazement. “I didn’t know a place like this existed!” She thought. “I can certainly get lost in a place like this.”

“So here’s the retro Sci-Fi, Fantasy section…” Solomon interrupts Madeleine’s thoughts. Solomon pauses, smiles, and looks directly at Madeleine. “Madeleine are you with us?”

“Yes sir!” Madeleine quickly replies.

Madeleine continues the tour with Solomon, and Devon fully engaged with Solomon’s stories, including offering up questions of her own.

“Mr. Solomon, so uh, Can I come here everyday after school?” Madeleine asks shyly.

Devon jumped right in; “Everyday?…What, are you a rich kid or something?”

“Oh hush now Devon!” Solomon immediately responds to his grandson. “It’s none of your business what she does, and when!”

Devon retreats, while Solomon encourages Madeleine. “Feel free to visit me here anytime young lady!” He says to the slightly shaken young woman, who took some offense to Devon’s words.
“You can come by, and just read if you like.” Solomon continued. “You don’t have to buy something. Devon is just jealous anyway. Basketball practice takes up most of his week, but he wishes he could consume books everyday.”

Madeleine nods, and puts out her hand to shake Solomon’s. “Thank you very much Mr. Solomon, but I have on intention of being a freeloader.”
After a firm handshake, Madeleine stares at Solomon, and continues. “Thanks for everything. I will be back”. She then walks toward the door as though Devon doesn’t exist.

Devon looks at his Grandfather puzzled. “Go after her Junior. What’s wrong with you?”

Devon staggers for a second then runs out after Madeleine.

To be continued…




Life Passages IX – Common Interest

Like studying a book, Madeleine takes every opportunity to observe Devon all while searching for some new and exciting literature in the science fiction section of the school library.

“Hmmm…” Madeleine thought to herself. “He’s a cool jock who’s hiding out in the library, and he even seems nice…What’s he’s story?”

“Found something?” Devon interrupts Madeleine whom he notices clenching a book and gazing in his direction.

“What?…Huh?” Madeleine looks down at the book in her hand. “Um, well it’s…a consideration” She finally manages to say with slight embarrassment.

“Which one is that?” Devon asks as he jumps to his feet and saunters toward Madeleine. He puts his hand out, gesturing for her to pass the book over.

Madeleine awkwardly releases the book she had casually selected. “Oh…ok. Sure.”

“Ah, this one is okay but if you like I can recommend a really good series?” Then he paused. “But it may be a bit heavy if you’re just getting into this stuff.”

“What is it?!” Madeleine asked excitedly. “I’m up for the challenge. I’m all for getting lost in books right now.” Her voice lowers, as though having a side conversation with herself “Clearly, I have no life!”

“What’s that?” Devon looks at Madeleine with a puzzled expression.

Madeleine focuses on Devon again. Her eyes light up. “So what’s this book series?”

Devon laughs softly. “Are you sure you’re ready?” He asks.

“I was born ready!” Madeleine responds with a tone she perceives as a “tough guy” from the movies.

Devon laughs out loud. Madeleine joins in with him until they are hushed by other library patrons.

They look at each other and continue giggling softly

“Let’s get out of here!” Devon eventually says, in a whisper.

“What?…” Madeleine responds

“You didn’t think ‘the best book series’ ever would be in this excuse for a library did you?” Devon interjected immediately.

“Um…I guess not.” Madeleine replied “Ok, let’s do it!”

Devon drops his books and the pair leave the library, just as the end-of-school bell rings, almost in a jog.

To be continued…




Life Passages VIII – New Friendships

“What haven’t I read yet?” Madeleine thinks¬†to herself, as she restlessly walks through the isles of the school library. “I haven’t read just for fun in a while…Hmmm…Let’s see.”

Looking up with her eyes fixed on the section titles, Madeleine stumbles, trips and falls to the Library’s carpeted floor face down. She turns to see what caused her fall and stares directly into the face of Devon.

Devon is a Junior at Madeleine’s high school who takes pleasure in sitting on the floor of the Science Fiction section of the Library. He’s also an atlethe on the school’s track, and basketball teams, but reading is his secret passion.

“Ah, you alright?” Devon asked feeling somewhat ashamed that he was partly responsible for Madeleine’s fall.

“I…I’m alright…I think.” Madeleine slowly responds as she begins to pick herself up and find her balance.

Devon awkwardly begins to stand himself, when it occurs to him that he should probably be helping Madeleine up.

In the process of Madeleine trying to stand and Devon working his way across to her, the two awkwardly clash and find themselves on the floor again.

Madeleine feeling terribly embarrassed immediately, chimes in: “I’m so sorry…Oh my gosh! Why can’t I get it together?”

Devon starts to laugh out loud. “It’s all good…Let’s try this again on 3…1-2-3.”

They both stand, and face each other. Madeleine’s face begins to turn red.
She nervously extends her hand. “I’m Madeleine.”

Devon looks down at Madeleine’s hand, chuckles quietly then extends his own. “I’m Devon…Looks like you crashed my secret hide-out.” He says jovially.

“Oh!..I did? I didn’t mean to…Wait! This is your hide out?” Madeleine continued with a confused look on her face. She did recognize Devon from a school basketball game, she had been dragged to by her former “cool friends”.

“Something like that.” Devon responded. His alethic counterparts have no idea Devon is a closet bookworm. “What got you so distracted anyway?”

“Distracted?…Oh…yeah…I wasn’t quite looking where I was going, was I?” She said with a smile. “I was just looking for something different. I need a book that’s going to transport me somewhere far away today!”

“Oh, ok…Have you seen anything to sink your teeth into?” Devon asked, intrigued.

“Duh!..No! I fell before I could!” Madeleine replied. They both broke into laughter, only to be followed by “Sssshhhhh!” from the Librarian.

The two looked at each other and laughed quietly again.

“Ok, I wouldn’t stand…or sit in your way. See if you find something you like…And, ah…um…if you need…if you need recommendations, I’ve pretty much read about half the books in this section.”

Madeleine looks at Devon as though studying him. “Um, ok…I will…ah…let you know.”

“Cool.” Devon replies. He then returns to his original position on the floor of the library while Madeleine slowly surveys the bookshelves all while intermittently gazing at Devon.

To be continued…



Life Passages VII – Enough is Enough

“So are you coming?!” Lila eventually screams, after repeatedly asking Madeleine whether she’d join herself and a group of classmates preparing to bail from school after second period.

“You know, I was thinking…” Madeleine finally replied.

Lila rolls her eyes. “What the hell were you thinking, and why?”

“Well I was thinking, cause I was trying to picture 2 futures. One where I leave with you and “the gang”, and another where I remain true to who I am, and what I know, and stay here and go to class…” Madeleine began to reply

Lila interrupts Madeleine. “You know what Chica, I don’t have time for this, and quite frankly I’m getting really tired of your constant weirdness.” She said in a mocking tone.

Madeleine carefully thought then said flippantly; “You know what? I don’t want to waste anymore of your time…and anymore of mine.” Then looking Lila squarely in the eyes she continued; “Have a great life Lila. See you on the other side of High School. I hope it all works out for Ya!”

With her mouth gapped open, Lila stares at Madeleine as she turns and walks down the school hall way to her next class.

Feeling a sense of pride, and confidence; immediately following her class, Madeleine made an appointment with the school counselor to discuss the best track toward the best colleges, and scholarships. Still she felt as though something was missing. She missed being a part of something, and having companionship. Feeling distracted by this issue, she wondered how to fix what she considered a problem.

Madeleine marched off to the school library with no real solution in sight. For now, she’ll return to her old friendship with books…



It Takes More Than Talent…Rhimes vs. Heigl

The historic Latin writer, Publilius Syrus coined the saying; “A good reputation is more valuable than money”.

This appears to be evident as we witness the reported tension between prime time television leader, Shonda Rhimes and actress Katherine Heigl – a former cast member of Rhimes’ initial hit: Grey’s Anatomy.

There’s been lots of talk about how difficult Rhimes found Heigl to work with. How could this be? Heigl appears so approachable, and all her on-screen characters so believable…even adorable, not to mention she’s the quintessential attractive actress.

Nonetheless her character, from all these reports, is being presented as just plain ugly! Luckily for Heigl, she’s joined the primetime television arena once again with State of Affairs, on NBC. Though her so-called “beef” with Rhimes may not affect the success of the new Fall show in anyway, it will be interesting to see how her reputation transpires on the new set.

All these happenings surely reminds me that success requires more than just talent, and skill.

Learn more about the Rhimes vs. Heigl fiasco HERE!



Life Passages VI – The Confrontation

“I don’t know what I was thinking?” Madeleine admits to her father; Robert while riding with him, in his car.
“I think I know.” Robert calmly replies.
“Dad, I know…I know! Can I not get a major speech this second?” Madeleine tells her father in a frustrated tone.
“A Speech?..Who said anything about a speech?” Robert responds scarcastically. “I mean this is the highlight of my life. I’ve dreamed and longed for this moment – to get the long-awaited call that my 16 year old daughter has been arrested.” Robert replies.
“Detained Dad!…Detained, not arrested!” Madeleine intensely informs her father, then rolls her eyes.
“Oh! Excuse me for my incorrect choice of words Madeleine!” Robert glances disapprovingly at Madeleine, then back at the road and shakes his head.
“Can I ask you a question Mads?” Robert eventually says after brief silence between them. “Are you afraid to be different?…Does the idea of standing out scare the crap out of you?”
Madeleine glances at her Dad and rolls her eyes yet again.
Following a lack of response from his daughter Robert looks at Madeleine briefly.
“So does it?…Does it frighten you to raise the standard?” Robert repeats.
Madeleine sighs heavily “Dad…” She breathes in deeply. “I have no idea what you’re talking about?”
Madeleine begins to mumble under her breath. “I’m just trying to enjoy my life…fake IDs – Big Deal!…Geez!”
“What’s that?” Robert chimes in loudly.
“Nothing Dad!” Madeleine quickly screams trying to match her Dad’s volume.
“So you’re happy right now – this second – about how your life is shaping up Mads?” Robert interrogates.
“Dad!…Please!…Chill out!” Madeleine buries her head in her hands.
“Ok, I will “Chill out”…Just remember fun ends some time and “cool friends” move on…You better know what you plan to do next!” Robert asserts.
The two continue the remainder of the ride home from the police precinct in silence.






Life Passages V – The Dilemma

“Did you hear what I said, Mads?” Lila¬†exclaims.

“Huh? …What?” Distracted Madeleine replies.

“Are you coming or not?” Lila¬†quickly responds, in a frustrated tone.

“Coming? …Where again?” Madeleine asks as she mentally resurfaces.

“To the “Hip-Ball”…You know, the hottest underground party of the season?” Lila¬†says excitedly.

“Yeah…Um…Don’t we have to be 18 to get in?” Madeleine asks with a confused expression.

“You know I’ve got that handled Girl!” Lila¬†asserts. “Jonas is already working on the outrageous phony IDs.” Lila¬†roars with laughter.

Madeleine silently ponders for a brief moment. “Ahh…Yeah, I don’t know about that Lila.”

“Huh? Why the heck not Mads?” Lila¬†asks flabbergasted.

Madeleine pauses to consider her next move. Her mother’s caring, though preachy words, begin to fill her mind, blended with the burning desire to seamlessly fit-in at her new school forced upon her by her Father’s periodic work assignments. She catches Lila’s¬†glaring gaze.

“I…I think that’s cool!” Madeleine manages to get out. “So does Jonas do this type of thing a lot?” Madeleine inquires.

“Yeah, of course…It’s his thing!” Lila replies spiritedly.

“Ah, ok.” Madeleine responds thoughtfully “Well…I guess it’s all good then!” ¬†She exclaims with forced merriment.

“You know it is!” Lila¬†responds as she puts her arms around Madeleine’s shoulders and leads her out of the high-school female bathroom.

To Be Continued…






I am moving.
I am drawn away.
Things are moving forward.
Things are moving away.
Which way should I follow?
Which way should I take?
I sit and wonder…
I act, and still wonder.
Which way should I take?
How long will I wonder?
How long will I sit and consider?
I’m making moves.
I am moving forward.
It is time to move forward…
Forward to a place of tranquility…
Let’s move forward to a place of peace!
I’m moving forward…will you come with me?
I’m moving!




Life Passages IV – The Stand Out

“What do you want me to do?” 16 year old Madeleine asked her mother; Ellen.
“I don’t want you to anything that your conscience is not already telling you to do.” Replied Ellen
Madeleine takes a deep breath and sighs
“Well I don’t see what the big deal is…everyone does it!” Madeleine snapped back at Ellen.
“Really?” Ellen shakes her head “That’s your justification?” She continued “Look Madeleine, reputation is everything so however you play this will solidify your reputation or break it.” Ellen explained.
Madeleine looks down at her feet. After about 5 pensive seconds she confronts her mother.
“I hear the words that are coming out of your mouth but why do I have to be the lonely “Freak” in the entire school?…It’s bad enough that you named me Madeleine!” She rolls her eyes.
Ellen smiles gently, she finds Madeline’s choice of words somewhat amusing.
“Well lonely “Freak”…” Ellen gestures air quotation marks. “You may be the “freak” now but later on you’ll be the trusted leader of industry, or even political office…or whatever you choose. Can you handle a promising and successful future Madeleine?”
Madeleine rolls her eyes
“Mom, not that future stuff again!”
Madeleine slowly takes a few steps back from her mother.
“I’m glad we had this very boring conversation but I have homework to do.”
Ellen chuckles softly as she watches Madeleine walk away.
“That’s my Scholarly Future Leader!”
“Whatever Mom!” Madeleine shouts back as she continues up the staircase.

…To Be Continued



Life Passages III – The Exit

“I’m Leaving!” Kyle anxiously announced.
“What?…No!…Kyle, what do you mean you’re leaving?” Beverly responds in disbelief?
“Huh?…What do I mean?!” He scoffs. “Seriously…You really think I should stay under these circumstances Beverly?!”
“It’s not that bad…right?” She tries to placate him. “What can I do to make you stay?”
“At this point Beverly; Nothing!” He proclaims emphatically. “I’ve tried to ignore the problem, I’ve tried to come up with my own creative fix but things
keep getting worse.”
“I will deal with it right now!” Beverly endeavors to assure Kyle.
“You had too many opportunities to do something…” Kyle peers at Beverly. “Sorry, I’m leaving!”
As Kyle turns to walk out the door, Beverly jumps to her feet.
“Kyle, wait!…I’m making the call now…I will report the CEO’s shady dealings.” She said with a stern face.
“We can’t afford to loose you – such a valuable employee!’



Life Passages II – Bon Voyage

“Sandy can you believe Charlie is gone?!” Melissa said with heaviness in her voice.
“No…no I can’t believe it!…I mean who would have ever thought…” Sandy struggled to get the words out.
“I know…I know…” Melissa interrupted her. “This is just too much to take in. He’s just gone way too soon!”
“I’m sort of crushed on the inside.” Sandy confessed. “I mean he’s so young. How can he leave us now?…It’s just too soon.”
“I guess that’s what happens when you’re the smartest kid in 10th grade in the entire school district.” Melissa said soberly.
“Yep! He gets to start college way, way waayyyy too early!” Sandy bellows out solemnly.
“And in Europe!” Says Melissa.
“Way too early!!” They uttered in unison.



Life Passages I – Commitment

“Why are you here?” She asks.
“I’m here…I’m here because I have something to say.” He stumbles to communicate.
“Well, what is it then?” She requests adamantly.
“I want to say that this does not make any sense. I don’t need to leave…” He began “I know how I feel and…we can do this. We can most certainly do this. It will only take us hanging in there.”
She sighs. “That sure sounds like a “different tune”” She illustrates with by signing quotation marks. “I have been waiting for you to get it together. I have been waiting for you to show me that you care. Clearly…”
He cuts her off. “I do care. I care very much and we are going to get through this. We are going to get through this together…We just are!”
She pauses and stares right into his eyes. “I hear you…I see you but this better not just be talk. I need to see action.”
He smiles smugly with confidence. “You will see action. You will…I can promise you…”
She interrupts his speech. “Well let’s get to it now…I can’t hear one more word…not one more.”
He takes her hand and the pair walk back into the study room, in the University library and re-join their study group.
In the end he made good on his promise. He remained committed to the remainder of the study time before the start of their semester mid-term exam the following morning.



The Fall of POMPEII

I had the opportunity to attend a free screening of the soon to be released movie; POMPEII last evening – and in 3D at that. As I scanned the cast list on my trusted IMDb App I was somewhat underwhelmed.

However, one name stuck out to me. Kiefer Sutherland is cast as the villain in this on-screen picture. Yes that’s right – the villiain. It was difficult for me to rationalize initially since I am a huge fan of his on “24” and the compassionate nature of his character on “Touch”. But it is what is and that is acting.

Did Sutherland perform brilliantly as a villain in this movie? Well, you be the judge. I do recommend going to see this film when it opens on February 21st. On a scale of 1 to 10, POMPEII gets an 8. The entire cast did their part to make the film enjoyable to watch overall.

For more information about POMPEII click HERE.



‚ÄėPerson of Interest‚Äô finds traction by killing off character | Toronto SUN


As I watched Taraji P. Henson’s character fall to the ground – in horror of course – I cried out; “Why-Oh-Why are they killing her character off?!”

Then I read the following review via Jim Slotek at the Toronto SUN regarding the aftereffects of the CBS show’s plot twist,¬†and began to get a small grasp as to why the show’s writers took this path. Still it hurts not to see Taraji on the screen.

Read more below…

“For a series that’s been spinning its wheels, Person of Interest sure managed to find traction last week…A series that, I’ve always felt, squandered the Earth-rattling implications of its central premise – the all-seeing Machine – turned to the old tactic of killing off a regular character to re-inject a sense of urgency into the show…”

See the full Toronto SUN review HERE.





‘Almost Human’ theory: Karl Urban a robot | Inside TV | EW.com


Karl Urban is a not a human being. Not in the technical sense of the term. Oh, sure, he might look human. He might walk and talk like a human. He might even like to think he’s human. But Karl Urban would be wrong! For Karl Urban is actually an extraordinary machine that has been programmed to think he is Karl Urban. Karl Urban does not know this, though sooner or later, he will, and when he does, Karl Urban will be very sad. Poor Karl Urban!

No, we speak not of the real-world Karl Urban, star of¬†Star Trek¬†andDredd, but the character that this fine actor plays on the new sci-fi buddy cop drama¬†Almost Human, which premiered Sunday night on Fox….See the full EW story here:¬†‘Almost Human’ theory: Karl Urban a robot | Inside TV | EW.com.


Almost Human‚ĄĘ review: This Sci-Fi show is almost perfect – Zap2it


“Almost Human”¬†does one of the hardest things on TV: make a futuristic, science-fiction world seem relevant and familiar to audiences. It helps that the show is, at its heart a buddy-cop story….

…Read the Full Zap2it Review here:¬†http://bit.ly/1egyYLa

And Still…Rest.


Love…that thing that eludes.

Love…that thing that runs in the other direction when approached.

Love…that thing that desperately wants to be captured, held, even squeezed as tightly as possible.

Is it love? Is it? Truly?

Is it validation?



Validation. To know that we matter.

Validation. To know that our presence here is important.

To know that we are very important to that someone. That someone in particular.

Dream, hope, pray…Dream, hope, pray.

Where? Where is ‘It’?

Come here! You demand.

Come here! You plead.

Come. Come. Come!

Still, ‘It’ hasn’t.


The plan?

Perhaps surrender. Perhaps still remain still.

Perhaps seek fulfilling work. Make a difference, but still.

Be creative, but still.

What else is left?

What else, but to rely on a plan bigger than yourself.

What else?










Who? Me? – Part 1

“It’s going to take a while but I am going to get there.” Melanie was forceful. Melanie was adamant but was she convincing?

“What are you waiting on?” Cynthia was oh too familiar with¬†saying that¬†phrase to her friend.

Melanie¬†dropped her head looking for the imaginary fist that had¬†just punched her in the gut. She pulled in a long…long, long breath through her nostrils¬†before she¬†projected her eyes on¬†to¬†her old friend.

Cynthia recognized the expression projected on to her and worked to decode it, piece by piece. “So you want ‘It’ right?

There was silence on the other end of the conversation. Only bright, round eyes¬†fixed in her direction.¬†“Um, Melanie. Are you in there girlfriend?”

Melanie took another slow breath before¬†exiting her stupor. “Um…” Gulp! “Yeah…um yeah. Of course I want ‘It’.” Her eyes slipped from her friend’s face to the floor tracing the diagonal design of the tiling pattern.

Soon Melanie’s eyes was tracing the design of Cynthia’s shiny leather pumps. Her friend had snuck up on her without any warning. “Guess what Mel. ‘It’ is reachable. You see it, right?”


You Are Complete

Open your eyes.

Go ahead, open them!

That’s it.

Look at me. Look into My eyes.

What do you see?

Tell me what you find when you really look at Me.

I’ll give you a moment.

Now let me help you. It’s love.

It’s My perfect love that’s beaming right back¬†at you.

May I tell you what I see?

I see all of you.

All of your bad decisions.

All of your flaws.

I also see all that I have created you to be.

Amidst untapped potential.

Amidst talent that you are yet to use to its fullest.

I see you.

You in Me makes you whole.

You in Me makes you complete.

Let go of the shame.

Let go of the guilt.

Make no apologies!

I have made you unique.

Or weird, as you call it.

Whatever the name, you are beautifully whole.

I’ve made no two of my creation the same.

Come rest in My Love for you.

It is finished. You are complete.

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The Island

An island much?

Haven’t you heard? No man is an island.

Try harder.

It’s easier isn’t it?


Otherwise it’s work. Isn’t it?


It’s walls. Walls¬†have been¬†erected.

Walls to cover up. Walls to hide behind.

Past wounds are pulsing. Pulsing loudly in your ear.

They are dictating. Oh, they are so loud.

You asked for them. Those wounds. You walked right into them.

Everyone hits their head against the bricks. Some more times than others.

You’ll get through it. They hurt, but you’ll get through it.

Walk through those walls.


Break them down.

You’ll see. You’ll see a better life.

I promise.


Trust Me.


I will be with you.

I will be with you as you walk right through them.

There you go. I’m here.

I’m right beside you.

You’re doing it.

You’re walking through.

Through the walls. Finally free.

You’re walking through.



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