Mom on board

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I texted my mom to let her know I’d arrived and safely boarded the cruise ship I’ll be performing on for the next month. She sent me this text back, and I thought it was super sweet. She hasn’t always been super excited about my career as a comic, but her concerns lie mainly in her desire for me to have job security, a steady paycheck and the ability to fill my pantry with groceries from a supermarket‚ÄĒnot shrimp-flavored ramen from Rite-Aid. But she’s on board now, pun absolutely intended, because she realized a few years ago that despite the struggle, this is the life I’ve chosen. Success ebbs and flows, but funny is my thing.

Be funny… OK?

No doubt.

Check out my digs for the next 4 weeks:

Dead to me

Tally Ho Theatre, Leesburg, VA

Tally Ho Theatre, Leesburg, VA

I had a show last Thursday in Leesburg, VA at this cute little theater called Tally Ho. I didn’t think I knew anyone in Leesburg, but last nite I got a text from my cousin Graig, yelling at me for not letting he and his wife, Michelle, know I was in town. I totally forgot they lived there, and they literally live down the street from the venue. Oops? Graig and I are first cousins and we’re close; we’re the same age. And they found out I was there because they saw the ad for the show in the county newspaper they got on Monday‚ÄĒfour days after the show.

But I digress.

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Graig¬†showed their four-year-old son my photo in the paper, and¬†he asked,¬†“Is she dead?” Because dead people’s photos go in the paper‚ÄĒduh. And Michelle told him:

“She is to us.”

Which is why I love her.

#Family
#GrudgeHolders
#SorryIsAllThatICanSay

Photo by Dominic Rivera

Roots Rock Run: My first 5k

My very first bib number!

My very first bib number!

This past Saturday I ran my very first 5k‚ÄĒthe Roots Rock Run in Philadelphia. I did it with¬†my sistren from¬†GirlTrek, an amazing black-women’s wellness organization I joined a few months ago. My goals were 1) to run more than half of the race and 2) not to come in last. I succeeded at both! Who knew 171st place could feel so good?¬†I ran at an 11-minute/mile pace and finished in 34:57, which¬†I think is pretty good for a newbie. And I really enjoyed myself;¬†I think I get why people enjoy racing. I wasn’t exhausted afterwards because I’ve been walking and jogging five times a week for the past couple months. I was super proud of me!

Oooh and also, because it was hosted by The Roots, I got to run with behind, meet, and selfie with Black Thought‚ÄĒmy forever crush and one of the greatest emcees in the game.¬†I’d always imagined I’d be slightly less sweaty during our first meeting, but reality rarely lives up to expectations.

Me with Black Thought. #Swoon

Me with Black Thought. #Swoon

Black dolls and black girls

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As described by its founder, Dr. Yaba Blay, Pretty.Period. is “A visual tribute to brown skin. A visional testimony of Black beauty. A vision board for healing.” It’s a place for brown women to come and, not just be appreciated, but celebrated. Where we are not “pretty for a black girl” or ‘pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” We’re pretty. Period.

I saw the above post last week on the organization’s Facebook page, and it absolutely broke my heart. We’ve all seen the doll test videos on YouTube; we know¬†how early, and profoundly and profoundly early,¬†little¬†brown girls are affected by¬†the¬†lies the world would have them believe about themselves. We know that the way to combat this is to tell them and show them and then keep telling and showing them how beautiful they are‚ÄĒthat women all over the world go to extreme lengths to achieve their brand of beauty. That they¬†are lovable and deserve to be loved.

Black girls need to play with and care for dolls that reflect who they are. Period.

Growing up, my mother insisted that all my dolls be black. I had black Kimberly dolls, a black Cabbage Patch Kid, a black Baby-Alive-type doll that scared the crap out of me, but¬†my Mom still¬†made me play with, anyway. She¬†even had two black Raggedy Ann dolls¬†made for me¬†because “if you want a raggedy doll, she’s gonna be black.” Which…well,¬†you just read that, so you know. Her intention was clear, though.

I know the "Waggedy" looks white, but she is just light-skinned.

Don’t side-eye Little Raggedy. She’s just light-skinned.

My friend Dana¬†is¬†the most creative person I know. A graphic designer/photographer/should-have-her-own-show chef/(former) beauty and food blogger and now–knitter, her ability to just pick up new skills and be great at¬†them has always blown my mind. Her current blog is about all the things she knits. She makes sweaters and baby blankets and clothes for her dog; she’s knit¬†me awesome hats and cowl scarfs. But the other day I happened upon something on her Instagram feed that melted my heart. She’d knitted a little brown doll for our friend Yuvay’s daughter, Maddie. She even made a sweater for Maddie to match the sweater the doll had on. How sweet is this? Check out her post here.

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Making a brown doll for a brown girl gave me so much joy! — DWJ

And it looks like little Maddie loved it as well! I think it’s my favorite of all the things she’s made in the 20 years I’ve known her; it’s definitely the most important. And having just seen the Pretty.Period. post, I had to share it. I have the dopest friends. Am I too old for a doll like Maddie’s, D? You don’t have to make me the matching sweater…

#BlackGirlMagic
#BlackDollMagic

Source: 1 | 2

 

I’m back

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Today, I went to L’Oreal USA Headquarters so my girlfriend,¬†Cataanda, could give me the first real haircut I’ve had since most of them fell out about a year and a half ago. I wore braids for most of that time, in order¬†to allow¬†it grow without the stress of daily styling. And today, I reaped the fruits of my (lack of) labor; I L-O-V-E the cut!

Cataanda is¬†an equally amazing hairstylist, make-up artist and human being, with whom I’ve worked for about seven or eight years. She beat my face for Last Comic Standing, all my¬†headshots and she did my hair and makeup for the last season of Exhale.¬†I linked to her website because it’s the right thing to do, but I really don’t want to share her with y’all. Matter of fact, if I ever need an appointment and I find out one of y’all booked her, we’re fighting we fightin’. She’s the only person I trust with¬†my hair, now. When she wasn’t available one week last summer, I made an appointment with the stylist I went to all through high school…¬†Not only did he get scissor-happy, but he cut a chunk out of the right side of my hair–the hair I was trying so desperately to grow back. And then he and his co-worker¬†tried to convince me that it looked good–as if my giant eyeballs couldn’t see the mirror a foot in front of me. I swear it was like that episode of “Martin” where Gina forgets to put the neutralizer in Myra’s hair, and they try to convince her she looks beautiful bald.

"You gave Myra a perm with no neutralizer???"

“You gave Myra a perm with no neutralizer???”

But, I digress.

Me and Cataanda

Me and Cataanda

Cataanda is ALL the superlatives. And she totally gave me a 5th Avenue haircut at the homegirl rate. I feel like I’m back! It may not be feminist or India Arie-ist or whatever, but I always feel good about me when my hair is pretty.

And I feel good about me today.

Just say YES

When I was younger I was a social butterfly; I STAYED in the street. I threw rent parties and dinner parties. I took impromptu trips. I dated. A lot. But in the years since, I’ve become increasingly antisocial. Maybe it’s because life on the road breeds an unhealthy level of comfort with isolation. Maybe it’s because I work nights and weekends while everyone else is hanging out. Maybe I’ve just been in a nasty rut. Maybe I was depressed…

Whatever the reason, it led to a mini (read: MEGA)-breakdown back in early February when my friend Damon asked me, “What do you do for fun when you’re not working?” and I couldn’t come up with anything except, “I don’t know… I read books.”

I. READ. BOOKS. Y’all. All the tears.

Later that evening, I was talking to another friend who asked me if I’d heard about Shonda Rhimes’ new book. He’d seen her on OWN and thought it might be relevant to what I was going through. I hadn’t, but my focus shifted immediately to the unopened Amazon box on the floor next to the sofa. Days earlier, I’d received a package from my friend Wendy. And wait–hadn’t she mentioned something about Shonda Rhimes a few weeks ago? I ripped open the box and there it was.

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If ever there was a more fortuitous moment it was in a fairy tale, I promise. And this passage that begins with, “Losing yourself…?” I could have put the book down right then ’cause that was church, but I knew there’d be more gems. I stayed up that nite and read it straight through.

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I bought in completely. And I am committed in this, my very own “Year of Yes,” to finding myself. To doing things that are uncomfortable and challenging. To taking inventory of the people in my life, reinvesting in the relationships that enrich me and moving on from those that don’t.

I am so grateful to Shonda Rhimes (and Delores!!!) for “Year of Yes” and my friend and angel, Wendy, for seeing that I needed it. I used to roll my eyes when I heard people say you can just decide to be happy, but I now know it to be true. Since I finished the book I’ve made a new friend, hosted a party at my home, started boxing (something I’ve always wanted to do). I’ve moved on from someone I loved a great deal for a really long time. And you know what? I see hints of the old me beginning to resurface.

If you made it this far in the post and any of this resonates with you, I hope you’ll read this book and decide to say yes. Your happiness is up to you.

A good thing

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I joke about my eyes on stage and social media because I am self-aware, but I am extremely (extremely) self-conscious about them. Every. single. day. someone I do not know approaches me and comments about them, almost always negatively.

“What’s wrong with your eyes?”
“Oh my God, you scared me.”
“Are you doing that on purpose?”
“Can you pop them out of your head like that lady in that commercial?”
“You got some big ass eyes.”

I know this. Because I’ve had this face for 37 years. They got “worse” when I got sick 2 years ago, and I’m constantly snapping selfies and monitoring (read: measuring) them with the help of my doctor in hopes they won’t continue to progress.

So when I walked into the Hudson News in Penn Station and the black woman behind the counter looked at me and said, “You have HUGE eyes,” I turned my back to her and rolled them. Not today, lady!!!

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Except: every. single. day.

When I finally got to the register with my drink, she said it again. “You have huge eyes.” And then with the biggest smile ever, “I hope your babies took them. Where I am from–Uganda–babies and big eyes, that is a good thing.”

Instant demeanor change.

“Thank you,” I said, “but I don’t have any babies.”

“Ahhh you must make some. It will be a good thing.”

Thank you, Hudson News lady. I needed that.

Biding my time in Rrroma

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Did you roll your mind’s r’s when you read that? Awesome.

I just landed in Rome for the layover on my way to Tel Aviv. The foundation flew me here like I was fancy so I got to sit in one of those cubbies with the ottoman and the massage chair and the four-course meal. And the free wine. Oh, the free wine… Much of my life as a comic would make for an epic struggle rap, but on some days, I feel like I’ve made some pretty decent life choices.

When I get to Tel Aviv, I’m on my own to get to the hotel, because it’s Sabbath and the car service is not available. I’m looking forward to that little adventure, a couple hours of sleep and then our first show tonite!

P.S. It will be 9am here when I board the next flight. I will be requesting more free wine.

Talk soon!