Monday, April 30, 2007

Behind the scenes of Facebook...

...AKA "the college addiction."

I knew I had a problem when I realized I couldn't log onto the Internet without checking my Facebook page. I logged on at the library, at the rec, before my shower, after my shower, when I got up in the morning, before I went to sleep. Before class. During class.

But I don't just go on there to see the latest updates in my friends' worlds, but I also like to see the changes to the site. I prefer Facebook over MySpace just because, in my opinion, the layout is so much easier to navigate. Giving people the option to personalize their page (like MySpace does) seems to be a good idea in theory, but whenever I go on there I can't stand the busy backgrounds on the majority of the pages. I don't mind the music playing, because if you don't like the song, you can simply pause it. There needs to be an option where you can "turn off" a user's background. That's where Facebook wins. Sure, everyone's profile looks the same, but that's okay.

Design issues aside, Facebook is nice because its developers are continually upgrading its site and tweaking it to fit the needs of its users. I regularly read the Facebook blog and I love how they describe the thought process that went into making changes to the site.

Maybe I'm just a nerd, but I like it. I love knowing how those decisions are made, because it affects my experience on the site. And considering how much time I spend on Facebook, having a good experience is crucial.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

To podcast or not to podcast?

As I try to land that perfect job (my hunch says its coming soon!), I've been attempting to figure out how I can beef my up skills so I am more marketable to employers. I need to know how to assemble slideshows, shoot video, take pictures, and record a podcast.

Or do I need to know about podcasts?

Truthfully, when I go to various sites, I rarely, if ever, listen to the podcasts. It's like listening to NPR. It takes concentration. If I wanted to work that hard, I'd read a book.

Do you ever listen to the podcasts? Or do you look for video and pictures mostly when checking out the multimedia available on a site?

It's Been A Long Time...

Sorry about the lack of updates lately. The semester is winding to an end and my days as a carefree college student (ha!) are coming to an end. Between making arrangements for the ceremony and then finishing up my work for the semester, I've been swamped. Add in the fact that my daughter decided she no longer wishes to sleep through the night and I've been downright exhausted. So I hope to hit you up with more posts this week.

On a side note, keep your fingers crossed for me! I interviewed for a new position on Friday and I really hope I get it. The staff seems great, I felt really comfortable in the office and I really really really liked the job description. Prayers would certainly be appreciated!

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Please support my side gig...

As some of you know, I have a weekly interview up at where I chat with young college journalists who are on the rise. I've had three so far, my most recent being Marcus Vanderberg, the hilarious blogger found over at AOL Black Voices, author of Everybody Hates Marcus. Check him out here and give me a little buzz in the process...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons suggests changes in hip-hop...

Check out this USA Today article to see which three slurs Russell Simmons recommends be edited out of all rap music....

Do you think it will help? Or is it just putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Five Tips For Networking...

As I am rapidly approaching graduation, I'm realizing that I'm a lot better at networking than I was when I entered college four years ago. I used to break out in a sweat at the thought of chatting up people I didn't know, trying to get them to remember me in the hopes that one day our paths would cross again and they would think highly enough of me to help me out in some way.

But, after a few conferences and a high-profile internship under my belt, I feel a lot more confident and I've learned a lot. Some are really obvious, but others it took me a while to learn.
I'm happy to share them with you.

1) Know what you want to do and have it ready for anyone who asks. For many years I made the mistake of telling people I wanted a mentor and would they be willing to fill that role. Most people said sure, they'd be happy to, but we'd fall out of contact and I'd end up being borderline annoying trying to figure out why they didn't have time for the type of relationship I wanted. I realized I fared much better with people when I told them my goals and how I wanted to make them happen. Then they were much more interested in helping me achieve my goals when they knew I wasn't just leaning on them for support.

2) Always, always, always smile and offer a sincere compliment when approaching someone. Now, don't say you like their hair or shoes if you really think they are rather ugly. But for women, this tactic has worked 99% of the time for me. If I'm in a situation, I usually break the ice with women by complimenting them on their shoes. Being the shoe junkie that I am, it leads to a full blown conversation and we end up laughing at our mutual obsession.

3) Look for different ways to network, not just in person. I find that in-person networking is most effective, but when you purely just want to get your name out there, you gotta do it the best way you can. Check MySpace for people you admire. Practically EVERYONE has a MySpace page and you can learn tidbits about people you didn't know and wouldn't have the opportunity to ask within the first five minutes of meeting someone. Leave them a comment or send them a message. Friend them. Make all these social networking sites work for you.

4) Be curious. If you are an artist, find an artist that you like and contact them. If you are a entrepreneur, seek out someone who built their own company from scratch and ask them how they did it. People like talking about themselves and if given the opportunity, they will do so, not realizing that they are actually helping you.

5) Once you do make a contact, follow up with them. I met a journalist in Atlanta during the NABJ convention and she gave me email so I could touch base with her later. A couple months later I saw her byline in Essence and shot her an email saying that I read her latest article and was very impressed. Things like that make a difference.

So there you go. Four years of trial and error all laid out here for you to enjoy. Feel free to add your own tip in the comments.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My Goals for the Future

My good friend Martin Lindsey has tagged me to list my goals for the future. I actually have a ten-year plan (that was blown to bits when I found out I was pregnant last year), so I have revised it. Here are my goals that I will achieve by 2008:

1) Get a job in the magazine industry. My current job is in public relations. I am applying for this job to be an associate editor at a magazine in the area and I am really really praying that I get it. It's extremely hard to break into this industry where I live, but landing this job will help me make that next step in a larger city.

2)Get this balance of motherhood and career together. I don't trust just anyone to watch my daughter, so I'm having a hard time getting used to the fact that I will, eventually, have to put her in daycare. As unproductive as it makes me, I still like having her sit on my lap while I type.

3)Become a better wife by being nicer to my husband. Sometimes I can be a bitch. There's no other way to put it. For example, yesterday, I was tired and I wanted to lie down for a minute so I tried to hand my daughter to him and I asked him to change her diaper. He told me to put her down and he would get to her in a minute. However, he was just sitting on the couch watching TV.

That set me off. I got upset and called him useless. Useless. Ugh. How mean am I? I tried to apologize but it's gotten to the point where he doesn't even listen to me when I get upset anymore. I don't even think he heard me call him useless.

But just things like that I need to work on. If he said half the things to me that I say to him, I would be mad all the time.

4) This isn't really a goal per se, but I need to get out more. I went out with my friend last night for half-priced appetizers and we arrived at the restaurant about 35 minutes before they closed. No one looked like they wanted to serve us, which is kinda understandable, but I was so upset. I wanted to scream, "Look guys! I don't get out often! If you don't get over here and serve me some food, I'll be forced to go home early and Lord only knows the next time I'll be able to escape!" I'm taking that as a sign.

I'm tagging a few more folks I guess.


2) Kimberly

3) Insert your name here. That's right, I'm tagging everybody! Let me know what your personal goals are...Keep it going!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

BET's first original scripted series to premiere in October

Okay, anyone wanna guess what it's about?

Yeah, you over in the corner?


No, that's a good guess but no. You, sir, with the gold teeth?


Also a good guess, but that's not correct either.

Slackers. Yup. That's right. Slackers.

I'm trying not to rush to judgment, because I haven't actually seen any episodes or know who's in it. But slackers??? Reggie, that's the best y'all can come up with?

Check out the full article here, at USA Today.

We are a part of the problem...

When I was younger, there were two magazines that I always read: Essence and The Source.

Weird combo, right?

I figured Essence could give me my fix of what was going on with black women even though I was way too young to comprehend much of what was said. I read The Source to learn more about the artists my parents didn't allow me to listen to. I learned about their struggles and what they were trying to say in their music.

But eventually, I stopped reading The Source. The artists became, well, wacker and wacker. And I stopped caring. There was no message.

Check out this interview with Elliot Wilson, editor of XXL magazine, one of the last mags left standing in the hip-hop industry. He's pictured with his fabulous wife, Danyel Smith, editor-in-chief of VIBE magazine.

Here's a little snippet of what Wilson has to say regarding hip-hop and what sells on the newsstands:

"Black and Hispanics started Hip-Hop, people of color making something out of nothing and rebelling against the system. Let’s not forget that Hip-Hop is a rebellious music. It’s like if you not going to let us in we are going to break the door down. Now we fight our need to buy into capitalism and our need to make money and be successful but we’re still the ones that have fought against the system. Whether the music is the most political or just party music, it’s our actions. It’s still based on the “rags to riches” and living the American Dream premise."

Very well, Mr. Wilson, but what about putting artists on your covers who don't demean women or use excessive profanity?

"When I’ve done things that have been against the grain—putting Talib, Mos Def and Dave Chappelle on the cover—it doesn’t sell as well as when I put 50 Cent or Lil’Wayne on the cover. We criticize the lack of diversity but we are attracted to certain types of artists who are charismatic, over the edge, drama. The balance comes from the internet and smaller Hip-Hop magazines, which don’t worry as much about sales. On the web there are so many blogs and sites that champion smaller or lesser known artists and bring them to the forefront."

So what does that tell us? There is enough blame to go around: record labels, artists, consumers. We are all a part of the problem.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Some things I'm thinking as I sit here thinking...

In the midst of this tragedy, I find myself trying to look on the brighter side of things. Granted, I'm two states away, no one I know was hurt or even attends Virginia Tech, but the non-stop coverage is starting to get to me.

It's times like these that I wonder if I have what it takes to be a journalist. If I was in the Virginia Tech newsroom, would I have been able to cover the story effectively? Would I have had the smarts to ask the right questions, to get the right information and then convey that effectively? I don't know.

I'm a newbie in this industry, so I'm not as hardened to the news and events like some vets are. When I saw the students speaking on what happened, it made me cry. When the one young man described how he pressed the table against the door to keep the gunman from coming into the classroom, he began to cry and I cried with him. I wanted to hug him. If I had been there, as a journalist, interviewing him, I probably would have.

Does that mean I lack the ability to detach myself from an emotional situation? Is that even necessary?

Whatever the case may be, I'm keeping the victims, their families and the students, faculty and staff at Virginia Tech in my prayers. I'm also keeping the shooter's family in my prayers also. I don't know how they are holding up, knowing what their son was responsible for. May God be with them all.

Best coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy...

As a journalist, I tend to look at how media outlets cover issues, rather than just absorb the news like a regular consumer. With the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I found that I was logging on two, three times an hour because it seemed like the story was changing by the hour. I looked at front pages of various newspapers the next day (Tuesday morning) and a lot of them had the basics on front - 33 dead, massacre, unknown gunman, etc.

Then I looked at Virginia Tech's own student newspaper and it was, beyond a doubt, the best front page I've seen in a while. Kudos to the staff for getting it right in the midst of such tragedy.

Black Like Me...

Check out Kiri Davis' moving documentary on the challenges black girls (and women) face being comfortable in their own skin:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oprah discusses the aftermath of the Imus controversy

A few bloggers (myself included) were a bit perplexed last week during the peak of the Imus controversy. Oprah, one of the most (if not THE MOST) powerful black women in the world, didn't really speak out about Imus' comments, but instead featuring a segment where audience members learned to "Lean with it, rock with it" and do that stupid motorcycle dance.

She allotted a few minutes to speak with the Reutgers (hope I spelled that right) women's basketball team and praised them for their grace, but that was about it.

But I knew she wouldn't just let it go. Today and tomorrow, Oprah is dedicating her show to talk about the double standard that exists in America. How is it that a white man disses us and we get all up in arms, but if a black man does the same thing, we accept it?

I'm going to watch today, but I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, when Russell Simmons and Common come on the show to give their opinions. I'm really curious to hear Russell's viewpoint and Common too. I like Common (although I haven't listened to his whole CD and have no idea if his lyrics are really as positive as people claim), but I wonder if Oprah will ask him how he feels about collaborating with artists whose message really isn't that positive. Stay tuned...

And on a different note, why is it that every time there's a controversy concerning black folks, Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson come running into the spotlight? Maybe their day-to-day work isn't highlighted, but it seems like I always see them being "reactive" instead of proactive.

I really hope this is a continued discussion, not just a hot topic of the moment.

And, in totally unrelated news, please send a prayer to the families of the victims at Virginia Tech and the students, faculty and staff. May God be with them.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Random thoughts this Friday morning...

Couple of things on my mind today...

1) Everyone is talking about Michael Jordan and his divorce settlement with ex-wife Juanita. They're like, "Ooh, she's taking him for half," etc. But you know what? I think she deserves the money. Everyone's talking about pre-nup this, and pre-nup that, but truthfully, I don't really believe in them. I guess if he got remarried, perhaps he'd sign one. But take my hubby and I for example. We are both doing "okay." Not great, not spectacular just yet, but just "okay." If my writing career takes off and I suddenly find my getting bylines in tons of mags, my own radio shot, guest stints on shows like "Today" or "The View," etc, what does that mean for my husband? Was he there on the sidelines supporting me? Helping me get to where I am? If so, then maybe he does deserve some money. Same thing with Juanita and MJ. I don't really know what type of wife she was, but we know being married to a superstar like MJ can't be a picnic.

2) I didn't want to weigh in with the Don Imus situation, but I feel like I have to now after hearing some of Snoop Dogg's comments. He says that what Imus said is different from rappers from rappers only call women from the hood hoes. Women who aren't doing anything with their lives.

Sigh. I don't even know where to begin. I'm so over Snoop at this point. I've been disgusted with hip-hop for a while now and haven't listened to a full rap CD since Jay-Z "The Black Album." (Although he's not the most clean-cut rapper either.) But Imus did have a point. Rappers disrespect women right and left. And even if their lyrics don't, their videos sure do. I've had to fight long and hard not to succumb to the video girl ideal and I damn sure don't want my daughter growing up and thinking this is okay. I want my daughter to know her best asset is her brain.
I remember seeing Snoop on the red carpet with the women on the leash and I couldn't believe my eyes. As ugly as Imus' comments were, I don't think it compares to what Snoop did and has done. Why aren't we mad at the rappers? Why is it okay for them to treat women the way they do?
From this point on, I have to be more careful about the music I listen to. I'm not listening to artists whose message I wouldn't want my daughter to hear. [Kind of off the subject, but have you heard Corrine Bailey Rae's CD? It's wonderful.] My upcoming project with Ms. Bowles will help be part of the solution I hope [details coming soon!]

I'm Famous! (Well, almost)

Thanks to my friend Marty, my first ever interview is up on the Net. Head over to Marty's website to learn more about what I'm up to, how I see my future, and why I'm "That Journalist."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'm Growing Up....

I'm getting so old guys.

Here's how I know....

1) I pay attention when food items go on sale. Need to know where oranges are cheapest this week? I'm your chick.
2)What's worse is that I know that actual prices of most of the items in the store. I swore to myself I wouldn't grow up and be like my dad, who would drive to three different stores to do the grocery shopping because the meat at one store would be cheaper here, but the canned goods are a steal over there, and you can't buy fruit at the grocery store, oh, no - we had to drive to the other side of town to the farmer's market. Sigh. But now I'm just like him. We do go to three stores now and I can tell you where to get the better deal.
3)You know how during The Price Is Right they show commericals for products that essentially....well, old people buy? I was watching one the other day and I actually thought to myself, "Man, I'd really love one of those Hoverounds."
4)I want to learn how to knit. Although I hear it's very popular now with the young folks. Oh, man, listen to me..."young folks?"
5) Most people my age aren't thinking about retirement or college savings plans. (We're too busy thinking about that first job or wishing our parents had college savings plans for us...) But I'm looking for a job with benefits. Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Aetna, Medical Mutual...hook a sista up with something! AND I want a company match on my 401(K). Yessir.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The nerve of some people....

I wound up on the Blogger's Choice Awards homepage today and I have to say I was outraged.

After browsing the site for a few minutes to see if I could find any new interesting blogs, I decided, "Hey, let me do a little search to see if I'm nominated for anything."

I enter in "Thatjournalist" in the little search box and hit Enter.

No results found.

How am I not nominated? Not even in the category of Hottest Mommy Bloggers.

Somebody better do a recount - That's all I'm saying :)

Monday, April 09, 2007


Things have been quite busy around the house lately. Mama's trying to shake things up and because I've been so focused on work and school, let's just say the blog has kind of fallen by the wayside. [My pastor used to say that all the time, about everything. Didn't watch TV last night? You've "fallen by the wayside." Messed up your diet? "Fallen by the wayside."]

But things are good! I might have a new blog coming up in the next few weeks where I get to be associated with a group of powerful black women who are looking to change things. I'm also shooting a few pieces off to Cross your fingers that some appear on the site!

I start working May 1. I'm excited, but at the same time I've grown attached to being with my daughter all day every day. Oh, well, maybe those nice paychecks will help soften the blow.

But the thing I'm most excited about is the new project I have going with Kimberly Bowles. We're still in the planning stages, so nothing's definite, but I have a feeling that what we are doing will change the world.

Man, I'm loving this time of my life. I haven't felt this happy in a loooooooong time and it feels good to just smile because your life is GRAND. The other thing that could make life better is if the weather here in NE Ohio would get the message that it's SPRING, not Winter - the extended mix. Say it with me - "This snow, this snow, this snow has got to go!"

Yeah, I know I'm crazy.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Secrets About Motherhood....

I'm convinced that if mothers spoke the truth about motherhood, the world's population wouldn't be nearly as high as it is now.

Don't get me wrong - I love my daughter. But I just feel like I ran into a wall. Like a bomb was dropped in the middle of my life.

Why didn't anyone tell me? Why didn't anyone let me know that I'd be exhausted every night, and my arms would ache from lugging my 16 lb bundle of joy around every day? Who knew that The Kid [as I've taken to calling her] would be so much work?

Who knew I'd spend almost every waking minute thinking about her? Is she hungry? Is she wet? Does she need a bath tonight? Did I wash her hair yesterday? Where's her headband? I gotta wash her clothes...Why is she spitting up so much? Man, her poo stinks....

Etc, etc, etc.

I never knew how much I could care about one person. The hubby jokes that The Kid has trained me, because when she cries, I move without thinking, like a robot. I hear her whimper at night and it wakes me up, even though we sleep with the TV on and she's in her room. How does that work?

She said her first word. I don't care if everyone tells me she's just babbling, it's not really "words" quite yet, I don't care. She said MAMA. I heard it and the people around us heard it. She said MAMA.

She can roll over now, thanks in part to the large head she inherited from her mama. All she has to do is lean over a little, and that head provides the momentum.

She can grab things. Hold a rattle in front of her and she reaches for it and sticks it in her mouth. She sticks everything in her mouth. I swear I spend half the day taking things from her.

She laughs. She coos. She smiles. She kicks when she's happy. She squeaks when she's happy.

There are a lot of things I didn't know about motherhood, but I'm glad I'm learning.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Need To Get This Off My Chest...

I've been learning to love God and to walk as a true Christian should, but sometimes it is so hard.

I've been having a lot of criticism lately, criticism that I haven't been able to shake off like I usually do. In the past two weeks, I've had people tell me I wasn't talented, that I was a bad mother, that I must have been stupid for getting pregnant without a ring on my finger.

That's a lot to take in in such a short period of time. I don't know why people want to rain on my parade. Or "piss in my garden" like some folks say. (What folks, I don't know...but I heard it somewhere before...)

The first insult didn't hurt me as much as the last two. I'm secure enough with my writing abilities to know that I am a talented writer and no amount of haterism will tell me otherwise. But for me to have to hear time and time again, "Oooh, you had a child and you weren't married." It hurts, because there's nothing I can say.

People think they are above me for the simple fact that they are still single and childless and they are able to do whatever they want to do. But I'm not sorry I had my daughter. Quite frankly, it's the opposite. I'm GLAD I have her. I'm tired of people looking down on me like I'm this poor, ignorant girl who got pregnant on purpose because she had no goals in life.

Then there's the whole other notion that I got married because I was pregnant. Newsflash: My wedding plans were in the works before my daughter came into my life. I love my hubby with everything I have, every fiber of my being is in love with him. He loves me. Isn't that what matters?

I was downright SCARED last year when I found out I was pregnant. Terrified. But I made it - we made it by the grace of God.

Now, when it comes time to invite people to the wedding, I don't really feel like some people - the others who have all these smart comments to say about me being a mommy - should be on the list. I don't want anyone at my wedding who is not supportive of me and my family.

I do my best not to judge anyone on the decisions they've made. We all make mistakes and sometimes things happen in our lives that other people don't consider to be the right move. But does that mean you are better than anyone? No, it doesn't. People disappoint me so much with their ability to rush to judgment.

I know this isn't really a well-thought-out articulate post, but I was angry at having to hear all these comments, especially when people have no idea what they are talking about.

13-year-old prostitute?

I began reading New York magazine last summer when I was an intern in New York. (Fitting, right?) Well, I just happened to go over to the website yesterday and I came across this article about Lucilia, a young girl from Queens, who, after sexual and physical abuse at the hands of practically everyone she knew, was forced into prostitution at the age of 13.

Here's a small snippet of the article:

All you got to do is go up to the car in front of us,” said Romeo, the young black man with heavy-lidded eyes at the wheel. “You charge him whatever you want to charge him, you ask if he’s police or a pimp. He’s gonna give you money, and then you’re gonna just do whatever he wants you to do real quick. It’s just a one-minute thing.” He sent her out.

She went up to the other car. The man inside drove her to one of the big parking lots nearby, close to the Belt Parkway. He paid her $500, had sex with her, and then dropped her off. “Where the money?” Romeo asked her when she climbed back inside his car. “Let me count it.” Lucilia took the cash out of her pocket and watched him flip through the bills. “Can I have my money back?” she asked. “You not getting your money back!” he said. “You making this money for me to take care of you.” And then he explained what he called “the Game,” how he would love her and be her “daddy,” how he would take care of her and buy her whatever she wanted, as long as she brought him money. “Let me tell you,” he said. “I’m a pimp, and you’re a ho.” “What do you mean I’m a ho?” she asked. She knew the word only as an insult, as in, you’re nasty. “No,” he said. You’re a moneymaking ho.” “Is that good?” she asked. “Yeah,” he told her. “That’s good.” She was 13 years old.

What this article focuses on is not so much the fact that Lucilia was coerced into performing these sexual acts, but that she was treated as a criminal for accepting money for sex. This girl was threatened numerous times, beaten and gang-raped. She is a survivor, not a criminal. Go here to read more.

I strongly recommend everyone read this article. It upsets me so much to read about sexual abuse and tragedy that falls on these girls. What angers me even more is that the system in place isn't designed to protect them.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reason #653 That I'm Nutty...

An actual conversation I've had with a friend:

Me: I hate stamps. I hate having to mail things. I wish there was a way that you could send papers without having to actually mail it. You know, like electronically.

Friend: *pause* You mean, like email?

Me: No, not email. I mean, like physically send something. So they receive an actual paper.

Friend: *longer pause* You mean, like a fax?

Me: Oh. Yeah. I guess it's already been invented.

New interview up at

Let's talk for a moment.

Say you landed a dream job and you were really excited about it. Great pay, even better opportunities. You get there, and they inform you that something is wrong. Something needs to be changed before you can start working.

You need to cut your hair. The dreadlocks you sport isn't an acceptable hairstyle at the company.

So you do it. You cut your hair. What happens next?

Well, if you are Mashaun Simon, NABJ student representative, you go on to bigger and better things.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon yesterday. He's a great guy, funny, and is really successful at a young age. He's freelancing for a number of mags and writes for Black Enterprise and Go here to learn more....

Monday, April 02, 2007

Please support my friends...

Head on over to Giant magazine's online home, to check out an article by esteemed colleague Charreah Jackson, titled, Are Black Girls Out of Style?

I met Ms. Jackson last summer, when we were both interns in the American Society of Magazine Editors internship program. We didn't hang out much during the 10-week stay (Ms. Jackson, a Howard student, was busy getting her network on and I, being 5 months preggers at the time, tried to stay out the heat as much as posslbe) but we still talk now. I even asked her to watch out for my little sis who decided the HBCU experience was too good to pass up.

She is major. And she's still in college. You can check out her blog, Queen to Be, to read more about how fab she is.

So what does that tell you about her future?

It's bright!

Let me go put my shades on!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Reading is fundamental, part II

At my baby shower last year, I was given the usual gifts: diapers, clothes, bottles, bibs, etc. But my friends bought an insane amount of books. I thought this was weird.

Why buy books so early? I knew between feeding her and trying to find a moment to sleep, reading to a baby who couldn't care less about what adventures Pooh and Tigger were getting into would be a useless task.

But the more I thought about it, the more I think it makes sense.

So many times, when I've exhausted all the children's songs I know and my arms ache from lifting her in the air while singing her name, I lay her down on the bed and go get a book. I figure, while she doesn't know what I'm saying, the experience of laying in bed with a good book has got to be beneficial somehow, right?

I think one of the main reasons I'm so successful (if I can say so myself) is because I like to read. I read anything. When I was younger, I couldn't just eat dinner, I had to read something, anything while I was doing it. For breakfast, I would read the back of the cereal box over and over. By age 10, I could tell you the ingredients for any cereal you could think of.

That's why I named the blog "Words 'n Such." My love of writing is really just a love of words. It's just that simple.

And I want to pass that love of words, of learning, of writng down to my daughter. I believe if you are a good reader, the world is yours.

Reading is fundamental....

When I was a freshman, I volunteered with this after-school program to help tutor young students, from ages 6-10. Study Buddies, we were called.

One girl, about 11, 12, was always really quiet when it came to story time. We'd pass the book around, letting each student get a chance to read a page. When we'd get to her, she'd start turning into a bully, giving a huge attitude.

The instructor sighed and let the next student read. Afterwards, when the girl was calm, I approached her and asked if she'd like to read with me. Tentatively, she grabbed the book I was holding and began to read.

"The ba-ba-ba...." she stuttered.

"Baby," I gently prodded.

"The baby...c-c-r...."

"Cried," I said.

"The baby cried," she said.

This went on for a page and a half and when I realized this little girl couldn't read any words more than three letters. When I was her age, I was devouring books, 2 or 3 of them a week. Now I understood why she was so angry and withdrawn.

I told the supervisor that I didn't think this girl could read very well. Extra help was arranged for her, along with counseling, because it turns out her home environment wasn't that beneficial either.

I don't know what became of her because my schedule didn't allow me to continue, but I think about her all the time.

She must be about 14, 15 now. I hope she was able to get the help she needed and was able to let go of her anger.