Shonda Rhimes In All Of Her Awesomeness

The day I finally graduated from college, I couldn’t wait to leave the campus. I was over the pomp and circumstance (pun intended, btw) about five minutes in, and I really just wanted it to be over so I could start looking for a job with my shiny new degree. I have no idea who spoke at my graduation nor do I remember the overall theme. It was probably something like “you’re the future” or “you are the generation that will change the world”, I really don’t know.

I came across Shonda Rhimes’ commencement speech to her alma mater, Dartmouth College, for the graduating class of 2014.

It. Was. Awesome.

One of her quotes really stuck with me. It’s a simple concept, but so often we really do sit on our asses and do nothing expecting the world to hand us things. She says:

“You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.”

Please watch Queen Mother of Thursday Night, Writer Extraordinaire, Working Mom, all around kickass, Ms. Shonda Rhimes give this amazing speech.

Thank You, 2013.

A Conversation With Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Spoiler: It Was Pretty Awesome)

I had the pleasure of hearing Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak at my alma mater last Tuesday. She was relatable, funny, and even walked the floor to take pictures and shake hands while answering questions. (She made her secret service agents nervous.) It was a first-year and transfer student event attended by current students, alumni, and staff of the school. I was really excited about this opportunity, and it exceeded my expectations.


I was originally bummed out because the tickets were distributed by lottery, and I received an email a few weeks later saying I wasn’t picked. In a twist of events, on Monday, I got another email stating there were tickets available and if I was still interested.



Here are some of Justice Sotomayor’s responses to predetermined student questions:

When asked about advice to an aspiring lawyer and/or judge:

“Don’t major in law. You should use college for its intended purpose, as a liberal arts education that teaches you about people and the world.”

She goes on to say,

“Spend your time growing as a person.” “Learn about the world and people.”

What other talents do you have?

After she made a joke about not being a great dancer and saying “The only thing I can draw is a cat”, she answers:

“I was born to be a lawyer and judge.”

Can women have it all?

She first tells a story about her colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Justice Ginsburg’s son was in school and became sick. The school called Justice Ginsburg to notify her. She replied, ‘You know he has a father, too?’” 


Justice Sotomayor appropriately discussed the pressure women face when juggling motherhood and their careers. She goes on to talk seriously about people [both women and men] in general wanting and trying to have it all. She goes on to explain the realities of life:

“You can have it all. Just not at the same time.”

“It won’t be eternal happiness all the time, you’re going to have good times and bad times.”

“Every choice you make [good or bad] comes at a cost.”

Do you feel alienated being around people who don’t have the same humble beginnings as you?

“No, some of my best friends are rich people.” 

Justice Sotomayor was a lot funnier than I expected. I guess I wasn’t thinking a Justice on the Supreme Court would have so many witty one liners.

She goes on to say,

“You can’t brush or write anyone off because of how they grew up.”

One of my personal takeaways was a simple statement she made while sharing some personal advice. She said:

“Learn how to live from moment to moment.”

Simple advice we could probably all use.


Sooner Or Later, It All Comes Crashing Down

At 26, I’m still wondering where the time went. I clearly remember spending hours strategically tearing posters from Word Up! magazine to hang on my wall while I should’ve been studying for my 8th grade science test. I can recall having daily worries of things like:

If I had a clean pair of white ankle socks to change into after school because I hated wearing knee highs.

Ducking the vice principal after school who had an ugly vendetta against me and my ankle socks.

Stressing about who was going to set me up on 3-way with the boy I liked.

Hoping my Mom didn’t pick up on my clever scheme of adding an extra 30 minutes of time on my TV timer after she set it up before she went to bed.

The memories.

These days, I proudly whip out my CVS card to save $1.50 on a bulk pack of toilet paper. A malfunctioning stapler at work ruins my day. I have deep appreciation for my Dad’s thorough lessons on doing laundry. Wine makes me happy.

This is my life now.

Pretty sure it’s all downhill from here.


Rich People Things: Rihanna And I Both Hate Broke B*tches

The latest news in “Rich People Fighting On Twitter”, is between the Shade Queen herself, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, and Teyana Taylor. Things took a turn when Rihanna changed her background to screen shots the alleged net worth of both of them. Rihanna’s was $90 million versus Teyana Taylor’s $500,000. Rihanna then tweeted: “I hate broke b*tches”.

The spat stems from an Instagram video Rihanna and her friends posted mocking Taylor. The squabble was highly entertaining for a lot of people.

For me, I was confused.


I thought rich people took private yachts to exclusive islands common people never heard of for fun. I also thought they wined and dined with other rich people and talked about rich people things. At least that’s what I would be doing.


I decided since one day I plan to be rich, here’s a list of rich people things I already do for practice.

I Don’t Use My Cosi’s Free Entrée

With a Cosi’s card after the tenth meal, the next one is free. Sometimes I don’t use it and pay for my meal cause I can.

Left My Debit Card Home? No Worries

I have a bad habit of taking my debit card out of my wallet and leaving it home. But it’s ok because I have an emergency credit card with a limit probably equal to the cost of one pair of Blue Ivy Carter’s slippers. That doesn’t sound like much, but I can probably afford half of H&M.


Student Loans Payments Ain’t No Thing

Some months I pay an extra $5 on my student loans. Sometimes $10 just for the fun of it. Boss.

Cable Is For Poor People

I cancelled my cable recently because it’s levels to this TV watching. I ditched common people cable and I now have Netflix AND Hulu Plus. Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit.

Yeezy Taught Me Too

When I do go in Cosi’s, I routinely yell for my damn croissants. Well, I ask for them sternly. Also, I often randomly tell people to not speak to me. Or to themselves.



Rihanna and I both hate broke b*tches. Get like us. #moneyteam

(me and my friends)

Update: Since this post, more rich people have had Twitter wars. 

Emily King Is Awesome

I don’t even have enough energy to explain the awesomeness of Emily King. She graced Philly with her presence last Thursday and it was great. As a lover of live shows, I’m so happy I finally experienced hers. Her last project, The Sevens EP, was released in 2011 and her latest single, Ordinary Heart, is on her website. Her opening artist was Washington D.C. native, singer-songwriter Nick Hakim, who is pictured singing with King below.

Look at my fantastic pictures. I took them in black and white, so you know I meant business.





One of my absolute favorite songs from Emily King is “U & I”. I shot a clip of her singing it right after I got myself together. I was acting like a crazed woman when she first picked up the guitar because I knew deep down she was going to sing it.

Emily King U And I from Val on Vimeo.

Emily King is everything.

Brown Girl Notebooks Is 3 Years Old Today.

I’ve had this blog for 3 years today. It’s been a showcase of my writing, as well as an outlet for my rants, opinions, and silly musings. I hope to continue writing here until the internet shuts down.

It’s a Sunday, and I need to be alert in the morning, so I’m going to celebrate with a nice glass of the water tonight.

(I pray it turns to wine. It is Sunday after all.)




True Life: My Father Thinks I’m A Depressed Alcoholic (Part 2)

Just gonna jump right in….

“Are you depressed?”, he asks.

At this point, I don’t know whether to laugh or take him seriously. My Dad jokes around a lot, so I didn’t know what to say.


He goes to pick up one of the bottles, “You know people who drink a lot tend to be depressed”, he says.

“Are you serious right now? And where did you even get that statistic?”, I ask trying not to laugh.

“I just know. Do you need to talk about something?”

“Dad, I’m not depressed.”

“I’m just saying, this is a lot of liquor.”

He’s picking up each bottle, and I’m sitting on my coffee table waiting for the Bravo TV cameramen to emerge from closets and random corners, because this cannot be life.

“Vodka? This is hard liquor you got here.”

I start laughing, “Oh my goodness.”

“I’m serious, Val. Are you OK? I saw an empty bottle in your room too.”

He’s talking about an empty bottle of 1800 RespadoTequila that I kept because I liked the shape of the bottle. I thought it was cool. It’s in plain sight on a bookshelf.

“Dad, I’m not depressed.” I go on to explain my tequila bottle souvenir (which I should point out I did not drink alone, or straight. for the most part).

He’s still looking at each bottle and again, not convinced.

“The majority of those bottles are not opened or more than half full.”

“Still, Val. This is a lot”, he says.

I’m trying to reassure him that he’s blowing this out of proportion. I’m attempting to salvage any confidence he has in my drinking habits.

We spar verbally for about three minutes. Then he has the typical “dad last comment moment”. You know that last comment a parent makes when they think they got you? Yeah.

So I gave him my best monologue of why he doesn’t need to worry. Here it goes:

“Don’t I have a good track record so far? Have you ever had to get bail money for me? No. Did I ever come across as unstable or incapable of making responsible decisions? I think you’ve done a pretty good job at raising me to be a semi-normal person who likes to drink occasionally and responsibly.”

He looks at me. Does his hand clap thing.

“Well, I still think this should be a dry house.”

“OK, Dad I have to go to bed soon.”

We laugh about it, say our goodbyes, and he heads home.

The moral of this story? When your parents are coming over to your place, just hide your liquor. Every bottle. All of it.


True Life: My Father Thinks I’m A Depressed Alcoholic (Part 1)

We need to talk.

Usually when you hear those four words, you know it’s probably something bad. You’re either about to get dumped, you’ve pissed somebody off, or pack your sh-t cause you’re about to be fired. I’m being extreme, but a conversation starting with that phrase can’t ever be good.

Story time.

“We need to talk”.

I pause. I start recalling every conversation I’ve had with my Dad for the past month.

“Um, OK. Is it serious?” I ask.

“Well…we just need to talk. You’re not in trouble or anything. I just want to talk to you.”


“I’ll call you later on.”

We both hang up.

That’s how the last 30 seconds of a normal ten minute phone call ended. I’m now thinking really hard about what it could possibly be. After a while, I gave up and decided I’d just wait to have this obviously serious talk with my Dad.

Later that night, my Dad comes over to my house. I usually know it’s him, because he almost knocks as if he’s a polite police officer. It’s not like a ‘coming to raid your house knock’, more like a ‘we have some questions for you’ knock.

I go to open the door. He walks in as if he owns the place, with a stern look on his face. (And of course, he walks in like this all the time because he does indeed own the place.)

“Hey, Dad.”

“Hello”, he says with a fake straight face.

He walks in, and does not close the vestibule door behind him, knowing how much that annoys me.

The purpose of the visit is mainly to give an update on the current renovations. Since he is financing it, he makes it a point to update whenever he can on what’s happening.

After business talk is over, I can tell he wants to say more. I know it’s coming, so I just say it.

“So…didn’t you want to talk about something?”, I ask.

“Yes. I did, I guess we can talk now.”

“OK. I’m all ears.”

He starts to moves towards the dining room. It’s somewhat cluttered because of the renovations, so there are things from the kitchen on the dining room table.

He stops.

Claps his hands.

He points to the six bottles of alcohol sitting on the end of the table.

“Are you depressed?”, he asks.

Tales of a Non-cooking, 20-something, Brown Girl Who Doesn’t Really Like Collard Greens

One of the reasons I love Twitter is because of the impromptu discussions, rants, and random streams of consciousness I and others have. I publicly acknowledged my non-cooking way of life, and then also my humdrum attitude towards collard greens. Here are a few of my tweets about cooking:

*start from bottom when reading tweets

(start reading from bottom)

Now about the collard greens thing….

I don’t really like collard greens. It’s not that they’re nasty, they’re just not my thing. As a Black woman, saying I don’t like greens, I’ve gotten a few raised eyebrows and side eyes.

Those who know me personally understand how ridiculous I am with my absurd, made up scenarios I direct in my head. Here are a few thoughts I’ve come up with because of my lack of excitement towards cooking and my collard greens issue.

1. Based off of my non-cooking way of life, I’ll have to date someone who is obviously OK with that. This will be hard.

2. Not only will it be hard, once it happens, his friends will make fun of him.

3. I’ll probably eat the collard greens of my future mother-in-law and give forced compliments.

4. My Dad will always make “you never cook jokes” forever. Even if I began cooking regularly for my own family.

5. My Dad will also be surprised if I go on to have my own family since I don’t cook.

Keep my in your prayers. It’s not looking too good.