A Tuesday Meme (a Brand New One for Me)

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings where the Meme-mother discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging and invites others to weigh in and join the conversation .

So, okay, the conversation seems to be about horror movies as America-land gears up for Halloween. I’m in the Caribbean and though Halloween seems to be catching on here, it’s not exactly my bag. I mean, the last three movies I sorta-mostly watched are

Quincy – love Quincy Jones’ music, read his autobiography years ago, so (his recent health scares aside) not a lot new here for me…but point of view adds something, and with his daughter, Rashida, in the director’s chair and sometimes behind the lens, it is a more personal and touching portrait of an admittedly flawed and undeniably talented human being. The man who from his jazz days to his Sinatra days to The Wiz to Sanford and Son and other TV and movie themes to Michael Jacksons’ Off the Wall, Thriller,michael-jackson-thriller-e1535549330442-700x355and Bad, to The Colour Purple to We are the World to Back on the Block to the Fresh Prince of Belair to Vibe … is responsible for some of the most enduring musical and pop culture moments of our lives. I know Netflix is presumptuous (and racially stereotypical) with those algorithms so you may not even be aware of this one but it’s worth a viewing.

Nappily Ever After (also on Netflix and based on this book I haven’t yet read 41osWiEC9sL__SX322_BO1,204,203,200_)- the latest Sanaa Lathan starrer – with a side of Lynn Whitfield. These two women were staples of ‘Black’ film throughout the 90s and aughts (The Women of Brewster Place, The Josephine Baker Story, Stompin at the Savoy, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Eve’s Bayou etc. in the case of Whitfield; The Best Man, Disappearing Acts, Love and Basketball,  Brown Sugar, Something New etc. in the case of Sanaa) and honestly I was going to watch for the two of them alone. Throw in some social commentary vis-à-vis Black women and our complicated relationship with our hair  in world where Eurocentric beauty standards (including straight hair) are the default (for more and deeper takes on this topic read Althea Prince’s The Politics of Black Women’s Hair 41fcMlIvaVLor watch Chris Rock’s Good Hair51D76G05XQL__SY445_), and what’s not to watch. I saw a lot of criticism of this one before I actually saw it. Folks felt it was light fare and too cliché from what I’m gathering, and they’re not wrong. But it’s also a romantic comedry (sic) and they do that – see every Meg Ryan film ever. So I take it for what it is and enjoy it as such (and it was entertaining) and hope that we get more and more opportunities to tell a wide range of films so that one film won’t be expected to carry the burden of telling our many stories (especially when it’s not exactly the genre for it).


That first big chop can be scary…scary liberating…as Sanaa will find out when the tears dry (still from Nappily Ever After)

Leave no Trace – the last film I managed to see (mostly) beginning to end. I saw the trailer sometime ago on youtube and it seemed interesting so when I needed to give my brain a rest, I thought, why not. It’s the story of a father who has opted out with his daughter into the wilds of…some wet, cold part of America…until they are drawn back in to life because it turns out you’re not allowed to opt out of life with your teenage daughter. He tries to play along so he won’t lose her but in the end the restlessness gets him; the heartbreaking part coming when she discovers she wants to stay while he can’t quit moving.

I liked all three in different ways for different reasons (but didn’t love any of them…probably taking the most joy and insight from Quincy). But, obviously, no horror here. I did catch the season 9 premiere of The Walking Dead which jumped the story forward a couple of years to something approximating what passes for normal in a zombie apocalypse, walkingdead-season9-blogroll-1538446518768_400wand it did have some scary moments – not the zombies but the death that’s always imminent. I said a while ago that I was over The Walking Dead (and did check out for a while) but I can’t seem to quit it (though it isn’t appointment TV for me like it used to be). Ezekiel almost falling in to a pit of zombies is about as horrific as it got (and with a couple of near death experiences last season in the face of his insistent optimism), it did feel like the leader of the Kingdom was on borrowed time and that that rope might snap. But… *spoiler alert* it didn’t. Though I do know due to casting news that we can look forward to two major character deaths this season…I mean, “we” assuming I keep watching. The freelancing life is hectic is as hectic does, and I’m still about a season behind on every other show I’m remotely interested in – Atlanta to The Americans…but someday!

Speaking of Someday, I did mention that I have a new story Evening Ritual in The New Daughters of Africa and here’s a meme-ish-related tidbit, it actually began as a sorta ‘ghost story” (or an attempt at historical fiction, or something) inspired by women in a  photo I saw at a lecture I attended on the old sugar factory transport system (the locos). For the longest while I tried to make these two stories which existed in two different times fit together but they didn’t, and when I untangled them I discovered I had one story that with some work (and some helpful feedback), an editor thought worthy of publication in this seminal publication – and as for the original story, in that other time, I may find a way to dig that out yet. The other-other story I mentioned The Night the World Ended was inspired by last hurricane season in the Caribbean which was its own horror show. As I mentioned that’s forthcoming in The Caribbean Writer. Another tidbit, that story was one of those out of body writing experiences, so much so that when they sent word that they’d be publishing it and even as I was re-reading it, I couldn’t remember writing it, though I remember that I wrote it…if that makes any sense.

Most recent book finished is Faye Kellerman’s historical murder mystery Straight into Darkness which didn’t scare me (well, not in the way intended but given that it’s set at the pre-birth of the Third Reich more in the this is what can happen to a democracy if we don’t pay attention way) but did hold my interest.

I feel like I should end with favourite horror films or something to play this game right…but I’m not sure I have any. Does Michael Jackson’s Thriller count? No? Okay free associating off the top of my head, I’m going with Rosemary’s Baby, Cujo, and The Omen – none of which I’ll be watching this October – and leave it at that.

If you’re here for the first time, my name is Joanne C. Hillhouse. I’ve authored some books – I hope you’ll check them out (and if you already have, I encourage you to post a reader review to Amazon or Goodreads, or even here); and I offer freelance services – look me up if you need any of the listed services. Thanks!


An Ode to the Pan Man

By Joanne C Hillhouse

This one is for the pan man
The beating his pan all night
At the pan yard man

Working overtime
In the engine room, an’
Keeping the rhythm tight
While the wiry bass man
Bend like a rubber band

This one is for the pan man
The beating his pan all night
At the pan yard man

An’ the woman
Can’t forget the pan sistren
tek dem ‘tick tu’n tune
Create a musical meal
De people can feast pan

This one is for the pan man
The beating his pan all night
At the pan yard man

The yout’ man ‘strumming’ the guitar
While the tenor carry
Ah melody the people can ride pan
‘Cause nutten sweeter
Than de Antigua Benna rhythm

This one is for the pan man
The beating his pan all night
At the pan yard man

Because he’s a kind of magician
A oil drum, a pair of sticks
Produce music like this?
Music with symphonic range
Even the elite can hang on pan?

This one is for the pan man
The beating his pan all night
At the pan yard man

Den cum ah stage
An’ tear ‘um dung
With swagger an’ bounce
Fu trounce all comers
And re-proclaim demself champion

This one is for the pan man
The beating his pan all night
At the pan yard man

He stick an’ dem mek man cry, man,
Musical licks as the notes soar
High, man, then tumble down to rest
In the heart ah man
Where it drum drum drum a new rhythm



1, this poem is mine; do not re-use without permission.
2, it has been published; in The Caribbean Writer, Volume 27 (2013)
3, reading it, I see so many things I would change (the writer’s dilemma) but
4, I have performed it a couple of times (it plays well) – most recently during my reading (2018) at Celebrating Ourselves

5, and I felt like sharing it now in celebration of our pan/panorama (congrats to the 2018 winners Panache (amazing!) tied with Hell’s Gate (solid), and second runner-up Halcyon playing Burning Flames’ A Rudeness Mek Me)
6, which, if you played the clip above you’ll realize as the song in the clip
7, snatched during the pan crawl/s I went on while hyping up for panorama this Carnival season (p.s. if you’re non-Caribbean and reading this, this is Carnival)
8, but held for posting until after (and posted only in joyful appreciation)
9, as you can tell, I was joyfully appreciating the rehearsal
10, no apologies – music is the food of life, play on – Happy Carnival!


Anne Lamott shares 12 Things She knows for Sure

Anne Lamott speaks at TED2017, April 28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED Author Anne Lamott recently turned 61. So she’s compiled the following list of “every single true thing I know.” A brief recap: All truth is a paradox. “Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift, and it is impossible here,”…

via 12 things I know for sure: Anne Lamott speaks at TED2017 — TED Blog

When you’re done reading that, check out what I had to say about her book Bird by Bird a little while ago.

What have I accomplished?

A friend and I were discussing this recently
Are we ever having a mid life crisis lol

I’ve been thinking though that in this main event (this is not the dress rehearsal, people!) that is life, what have I accomplished may be the wrong question.

I realize at this time that all the physical stuff even health can come and go
…but what lingers is…
The memories I’ve made (yes, even the ones tinged by loss)
The adventures I’ve had
The genuine (emphasis on genuine) connections along the way…the ones that surprise and delight…and make it safe to be yourfullself…
The young people including nieces and nephews whose lives I’ve been blessed to be a part of
The act of creating including the creating (and ongoing survival and growth) of Wadadli Pen
The fact that I am out here freelancing, finding my own rhythm (even when I’m fussing about it…even when I’m short of money and …even though I had a moment of wtf when I realized just how long I’ve been obstinately claiming this against the odds existence…even when I’m tired and want to go to sleep)…that there’s music…
The ways I continue to learn…the things I had to figure out how to do…and could then add to my skill set… (way too many times to count)…

The stories…the ones I read…the ones I write…the ones I’m yet to discover…happiness is the pen flying across the page, my fingers flying across the keys, cramping but urgent…mind skipping along like a child at play…unhinged…from the ways life tries to anchor it…

That I am a writer jamaicajoanne-2015-at-v-i-lit-fest(wait, let me put that in bold and type it again in all caps…the little gyal from Ottos, Antigua is a living, breathing, working WRITER…stamped in her passport…which has stamps of all the places writing has taken her…still with her head buried in a book or her eyes turned inward toward the stories in her head…taking in life, recording it for later)

Sunsets, san’flies, semi-warm pizza, semi-cold beer, friendship, someone who gets you…happy moments are made of moments like this… long drives and endless conversation…the magic in the mundane moments…the flights of fancy and actual flights…the memories that linger after the life is gone…and the pen to capture it all with…


Could I life better?…for sure, for sure …as I told a friend recently, I need to work on sharpening my learning curve …but even if it all goes fubar after I write this (side-eyeing Murphy)…everything is everything… choosing the uncut path has never been easy…but along the way, there’s been writing, journeying, adventuring, laughs and relationships (mixed in with the disappointments and losses…and oh the stresses!)…all part of life-ing.

…or some such cliche

When my first book The Boy from Willow Bend came out the first time, the publisher let me know when they submitted it for one of the few awards for which it was eligible. I told only one friend. So had only one person witness to me falling apart (very quietly on the inside, but she knew) when I didn’t even make the long list. I knew I hadn’t made the long list because I pretty much stalked the site, checking in semi-obsessively. See, I knew what even making the list could do to my writing career, but beyond the professional leg up, I wanted it badly, after the years of silent hope and fear that it would never come to be, my book was published, and I wanted to believe that it was worthy, that I was worthy, that I hadn’t put all my eggs into this basket only to have it slip and fall leaving the eggs cracked and runny on the ground.

Of course, that’s what happened, but it was I who was cracked open (to belabor that metaphor just a wee bit more).

The absence of my name on that long list would be only one of many huge disappointments post-publishing – a period of my writing life that had previously existed in this hazy heaven of everything good …before reality hit. I had to quickly adjust to the fact that the road post-publishing, much like the road to publishing, was riddled with pot holes. I was still a working writer who had to struggle for everything from time to write to the will to pick myself up from every rejection. This isn’t strictly true, of course, in between the struggle has been triumphs, being a Burt Award finalist and the coming out of my latest book Musical Youth, only the recent amongst them. Latisha But none of it has come easy.

Rejections are still part of the rhythm of my writing life.

Now, some of it has to do with being a writer from a small place sure, but some of it just has to do with being a writer in a sea of writers, and some of it just has to do with …ah so life stay; as my tanty used to say, “leave room for disappointment”.

Life happens, you know.

So, this latest round of musing, coming the week of the release of my latest book, a week of congratulations, and hustle, a week in which life, the good and bad of it did not stop happening, was prompted by this posting It’s not you, it’s me by Emily Lackey… and other things… and the realization that I’ve for the most part stopped obsessing about submissions. I send it out and let it go….which is good and bad…the bad is when the rejection comes in, it’s still hits you like a punch by Mike Tyson… and the rejections keep coming, yes, even post-publishing. The only thing you can do really is fully embrace the non-rejections, the acceptances; continue writing; and keep daring. Because life wins when you give up, or some such cliché.

Becoming Consciously Uncoupled*

Downsizing a freelance relationship can be challenging for all the reasons mentioned in this article though for many reasons, also mentioned in this article , the choice may already be made. Two things are jumping out at me:

“My emails would go unanswered for long periods, my pay rate stagnated, my contribution went unrecognized, and I wasn’t growing.”


“…ultimately, good business relationships should be ‘profitable’ beyond money.”

It’s food for thought for any one contemplating the future of any kind of relationship…especially if you’ve got Kenny Rogers buzzing in your ear…


“You gotta know when to hold em

know when to fold em

know when to walk away”

*Gwyneth, no copyright infringement is intended…ah jus’ borrowing your turn of phrase…and here, you can have it back.

Also, if you’re reading this…I remain committed to #thewritinglife and a freelancer #onthehustle … thankful for the relationships I’ve had; yes, even the ones that didn’t work out.

On Carnival, art and life

It’s a weird phenomenon, isn’t it? Carnival. For a heartbeat, old and familiar and circular arguments about politics and the economy are completely ignored and the lid let off the pressure cooker.

As the biggest platform for performing and to some extent visual artists, lyricists, and composers in Antigua and Barbuda (and arguably the entire the Eastern and Southern Caribbean), there is no denying its role in the development of the creative arts in Antigua and Barbuda. I mean, because of Carnival, we have Obsti, Swallow and Short Shirt and after taking the walk to the always romantic land of nostalgia with them on Calypso Monarch night, no Antiguan who loves calypso would want to live in a world where those three icons didn’t exist as we know them to. I add as we know them to because their talent is such, they would have found their way to the arts some how or other, right, even without Carnival? Maybe. But thanks to Carnival, they are iconic. Away from cricket, the musical artistes that make their name on the Carnival stage are our celebrities and the annual competitive process gives some impetus to the creative spark that lives in them regardless.

But in this moment, I’m not here to talk about that.  I’m here instead to talk about how, like Bob said, when music hits you, you feel no pain. More than that, the music is a pain killer blotting out the pain you already had.

If you’re outside of the Carnival, it’s easy to wonder where people get that kind of energy, where they get the money to waste on bathsuits and baubles, and why bother. Here’s the thing though when the parade is coming up the road on Carnival Tuesday, whether you’re in the mas or not, though it’s more fun to be in, you forget, and you become a kid all over again. You just want to dance and feel good, and, with or without the aid of spirits, you do. The thing Carnival reminds us about life perhaps is that it’s to be lived and felt, it reminds us what it is to be in the moment. (Just ask Nikki in Oh Gad!)

Now if we could just take that in the momentness into every day life, minus the misbehaving, sweet or otherwise, perhaps we wouldn’t need the Carnival. No need for time outs.