Cicada Files Archives: May 21, 2004

Up Close and Too Personal

Friday, May 21, 2004 @ 10:20 PM

I braved the elements earlier this evening to go out to dinner with one of my girlfriends and her daughter.  When they came to pick me up, my neighbor was outside cutting his lawn.  BIG mistake.  As I opened the door, he smiled and waved enthusiastically.  “Hi!  Look, we’ve got cicadas!”  I looked down on the ground to see an entourage of cicadas eagerly following the lawn mower as my neighbor mowed back and forth like he was the Pied Piper or something.  My neighbor’s wife and little daughter were outside eagerly watching the cicadas zip back and forth following the hum of the lawn mower.  As the cicadas realized that it wasn’t a male cicada trying to put the moves on them, one by one, they flew off…and headed straight towards me!  As I ran to hop in my girlfriend’s car, my neighbors were chuckling.  “Oh, they’re harmless.   You should see our backyards!  There are hundreds of them back there!”  That’s when I told my girlfriend Yvonne to pull off.  I had heard enough.

Yvonne was cruising towards Route 40 past all kinds of trees with her windows down.  That’s a blatant invitation for a cicada to fly in and take over your car.

I was dreading the return trip home, so before we left the restaurant, I grabbed my keys, armed and ready to march straight to my front door.  Yvonne looked at me and asked me what I was doing with my keys out.  Apparently, she must’ve thought that I had forgotten that she drove.  I didn’t forget, I was just trying to be on the ready.

Finally, when we arrived at my house, I was very apprehensive about walking up to the front door.  I didn’t know if the cicadas were camped out in my yard, or chillin’ on the door frame.  I stood there for a good 30 seconds, not sure of what to do.  Should I run, open the front door and hope that there’s nothing close enough to fly into the house?  Should I walk slowly and cautiously, so as not to disturb the cicadas?   Or should I ask Yvonne to drop me off at BWI so that I could catch the first flight out of town?  Yvonne, concerned, sent her daughter Kyra to open the door for me.  I asked Kyra if she saw any cicadas on my front door; she told me that she didn’t, and then she waited for me to open the door.  She’s such a sweetie pie.

Later on, my sister Shani called to tell me that she read my weblog and thought it was hilarious.  She was laughing uncontrollably, which to me, indicated that she was laughing at me, and not at my journal writings.  I asked Shani how many cicadas had she seen thus far; she said she’s seen one cicada shell.  Okay, now she’s disqualified.  I’ve seen cicadas hanging from trees, flying around, landing on my shoulder, waving at people, chilling on lamp posts, directing traffic in parking lots, doing the cha-cha slide on the sidewalk, you name it.  I’ve seen a few dozen cicadas to her one…and she has the nerve to laugh at me.

And anyway, why is Shani perpetrating now like she isn’t afraid of bugs?  This is the girl who used to scream when she found a cricket in the laundry basket.  She’s trying to laugh at me?  That’s a shame and a half.

Wait until a cicada lands on her shoulder.  I bet she won’t be laughing then.

Cicada Files Archives: May 11, 2004

Gross Encounters of the X Kind

Tuesday, May 11, 2004 @ 9 PM

I had my first encounter with a member of the Brood X Cicada family.  I live on the outskirts of the Patapsco State Park, so I’m sure that the cicadas in my area will be rolling like P.Diddy’s entourage in a few weeks.  However, it’s still pretty early in the Brood X season, so I didn’t expect to see a cicada this soon.

On Tuesday evening, I stopped at a gas station on Security Boulevard to buy gas.  (I had to take out a second mortgage on the house just to fill up my gas tank…but that’s a whole ‘nother saga).  As I was walking towards the pump, it happened.  This huge bug landed on my right shoulder!  It looked to be about the size of a 4-year-old child…I kid you not!  Okay, so it wasn’t 3-feet tall, but it was way too big to be flying around!  I don’t know if the thing was lost and needed directions to the park, or if God was exercising his sense of humor, but it picked the WRONG shoulder to land on.

For a minute there, I tried to lay aside my fear of insects, and tried to play it cool.  I thought if I could simply brush it off my shoulder, I’d be okay.  My first instinct was to scream, but I was trying to handle it rationally.  So I started flicking at the thing, and then I proceeded to stomp my foot; the bug didn’t move.  I yelled at the bug; it didn’t move.  After exhausting all possible options, I had no choice.  I had to scream.  And you know what?  The bug still didn’t move.  It took a little twisting and turning, and a lot of screaming for the bug to eventually fall to the ground.

A couple of other customers at the gas station asked me if I was okay.  I think one lady was laughing at me as she was pulling off.  But trust me, that sister will have her day.  I was so freaked out by this bug landing on me, that I quickly put the cap back on the tank, hopped in the car and sped off.

As a result of my experience, I’ve come up with a few tips to help people cope with the Brood X Cicadas:

  1. Don’t buy gas from the Shell station on Security Boulevard. This is a cicada-friendly establishment.
  2. Don’t waste your energy trying to yell at, or reason with a cicada. Cicadas don’t understand English.
  3. Don’t move near a state park. Parks tend to have a lot of trees, and cicadas like trees. Hence, where there are trees, there will be lots of cicadas and mass pandemonium.
  4. If a cicada lands on your shoulder, you can easily get it off by turning in a circle twice counter-clockwise while screaming loudly. This will effectively make the cicada dizzy and will scare it (along with anyone within 30 feet of you).

In the coming weeks, as the cicadas sneak out of the Patapsco State Park and start roaming through my neighborhood, I’m sure I’ll come up more reasonable and rational tips to pass along.

Cicada Non Grata

 

I don’t know who told the Brood X Cicadas that they could just show up unannounced four years early. But whoever it is, they will have hell to pay. It’s 2017, and those beady-eyed flying terrors of destruction were not due back here for another four years. I needed those four years to come up with an escape plan.

Anyone who knows me know that I am not a cicada fan. And anyone who knows me well knows that I had a little blog called The Cicada Files back during the last Brood X invasion.

As I will be spending a lot of time indoors over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing posts from The Cicada Files archives here.

Damn you, Cicadas.

“The Four Jesuses” Reading Postponed

4J Postponed

It all started out beautifully.

I submitted my two-act play, The Four Jesuses, to the DCBTF earlier this year. I was delighted to learn that the DCBTF chose my little play to be in the DCBTF’s 2015 New Works Reading Series! Being a first-time playwright, I was excited to have the opportunity to share my work with the theatre community.

I have been writing all my life. Poems, short stories, essays…you name it, I’ve written it. Writing a play has been something that I’ve wanted to do for some time, and finally I had.

The process of putting on a play is new to me. I was looking forward to learning about auditioning, the workshop process and what it takes to produce a play. I was excited, energized and inspired.

That was a few months ago.

Over the past few months, I have been on a roller coaster ride with this festival. My flier, logo and other promotional materials never made it onto the festival website, and no one could confirm for me the actual start time for my reading. There’s so much more I could say, and so much more proof of the foolery and ninja nonsense I have had to deal with, but I won’t get into that. I am trying to temper my words and not lay blame, but it’s hard, especially when my reputation — which is vested in this — is at stake.

Everything started to unravel at warp speed yesterday when I went to the venue for a site visit. The RISE Demonstration Center’s facilities staff advised me that they did not have a signed contract from the festival organizers, even though my fellow playwrights and I were given a schedule of dates and times for our readings. The Executive Director of the Center called me, very apologetic, and told me that without a signed contract from the festival organizers, they could not allow us to use the facilities. She graciously offered to allow us to use the outdoor pavilion instead. However, there were four readings scheduled for the same two-hour time slot on Sunday, and they’re calling for rain. So multiple readings taking place in the outdoor pavilion in the evening…in the rain? There are too many things that could go wrong with that scenario. According to some playwrights, they have gotten word from the organizers that everything’s a go for Sunday. As of this writing, I, personally, have not received such confirmation.

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The past 18 hours have been the most stressful and disappointing in my life. Multiple attempts to contact festival organizers have yielded nothing. And thus, after talking to my talented and supportive cast, I have decided to postpone my reading. I do not want to put anyone in any sort of physical, legal or other kind of jeopardy. I am working on scheduling an independent reading, and as soon as I have preliminary logistics locked down, I will let you all know.

I thank all of my family, friends, colleagues, fellow writers and my new friends in the DMV theater community for their love, encouragement and support. To Tawanza Anthony, Johnnie Leon Hill, Rikki Lacewell Howie, Melanie Burwell, Teneisha Brown, Quentin Briscoe and Albert Prater Jr.: Thank you for believing in me and my play to want to invest in my dream. I am humbled by your talent, dedication and support.

To quote a line from The Four Jesuses Program that I now will not be handing out tomorrow, “The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said ‘Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.’ Thank you for being rainbows in my life, and for brightening my path in so many beautiful and delightful ways.”

“The Four Jesuses” Debuting at the DC Black Theatre Festival!

I am happy, proud and excited to announce that my new play, “The Four Jesuses”, will be debuting at the 2015 DC Black Theatre Festival on Sunday, June 21st! “The Four Jesuses” is a part of the DCBTF’s New Works Reading Series. Stay tuned for more details…

The Four Jesuses flier
“The Four Jesuses”, a two-act play, will be debuting at the 2015 DC Black Theatre Festival

Writing Outside the Fence Seeks Volunteer Instructors for Fall & Winter Workshops!

Writing Outside the Fence seeks qualified, committed volunteer teachers for Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 workshops. The program offers creative writing workshops for ex-offenders and the extended community through the Reentry Center in Baltimore. We launched in May 2006 and were the cover story in the June 6, 2007 issue of City Paper. In addition, the winners of our Inmate/Ex-Offender Writing Contest were featured in the March 2009 issue of Urbanite. In June 2009 two of our writers were featured on WYPR in Tom Hall’s segment of Maryland Morning. We’ve held readings at  the Enoch Pratt Library the last several summers. A podcast of our 2012 reading is available on the library website.

The program is currently looking for volunteers to commit to a month of weekly meetings — four consecutive meetings total per teacher — for late summer into fall of 2014. The workshop meets Tuesdays, 5-7 PM at the Reentry Center at 2401 Liberty Heights Ave. on the upper level of the Mondawmin Mall in Northwest Baltimore.

Past instructors have been poets and journalists, playwrights and screenwriters, fiction and creative nonfiction writers. They have included instructors from BCCC, Coppin State, Goucher, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, MICA, the University of Baltimore, and elsewhere. No two have run their workshops quite the same way; all have found it rewarding.

If you are interested in volunteering for this worthwhile effort, contact WritingOutside [at] aol [dot] com.

Writing Outside the Fence Seeks Qualified Volunteer Teachers

Writing Outside the Fence seeks qualified, committed volunteer teachers. The program offers creative writing workshops for ex-offenders and the extended community through the Reentry Center in Baltimore. We launched in May 2006 and were the cover story in the June 6, 2007 issue of City Paper. In addition, the winners of our Inmate/Ex-Offender Writing Contest were featured in the March 2009 issue of Urbanite. In June 2009 two of our writers were featured on WYPR in Tom Hall’s segment of Maryland Morning. We’ve held readings at Enoch Pratt the last several summers. A podcast of our 2012 reading is available on the library website.

The program is currently looking for volunteers to commit to a month of weekly meetings — four consecutive meetings total per teacher — for late summer into fall of 2014. The workshop meets Tuesdays, 5-7 PM at the Reentry Center at 2401 Liberty Heights Ave. on the upper level of the Mondawmin Mall in Northwest Baltimore.Past instructors have been poets and journalists, playwrights and screenwriters, fiction and creative nonfiction writers. They have included instructors from BCCC, Coppin State, Goucher, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, MICA, the University of Baltimore, and elsewhere. No two have run their workshops quite the same way; all have found it rewarding.

If you are interested in volunteering for this worthwhile effort, contact WritingOutside [at] aol [dot] com.

Join Me on Tuesdays for Writing Outside the Fence

I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted, but life happens.

Today, I started another volunteer teaching stint at the Writing Outside the Fence workshop at the Re-Entry Center in Mondawmin Mall. I’ll be there for the next three Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m., leading workshops on writing dialogue, free writing, among other things. The workshop is free and open to the public.

To learn more about the program and its community of fabulous and amazing writers, check out this feature article that ran on Examiner.com or this podcast from the Enoch Pratt Free Library:

Writing Outside the Fence Reading at the Pratt

If you are a writer in the Baltimore area, and are interested in sharing your love of writing, we’d love to have you join our dynamic team of volunteer instructors. Hit me up in the Comments section below.

Very Literary: A Night for Lunatics

Share you love of all things lunar with the Baltimore Chapter of the Maryland Writers Association! On Wednesday, October 17, bring your poems, essay and other literary masterpieces for an open mic event as a part of Free Fall Baltimore’s Literary Arts Week. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Village Learning Place located at 2521 St. Paul Street.

Read more about A Night for Lunatics, Lunarians & Luna Lovers here.

Follow @promoandarts and @MWABaltimore on Twitter.

Thank You, Urbanite

Last week I was among the countless people who were shocked and saddened to read David Zurawik’s article in the Baltimore Sun about the end of Urbanite magazine. If you’ve lived in Charm City long enough, you’ve definitely seen Urbanite magazine’s imprint around town. Whether you picked up a copy in your favorite eatery or watering hole, or if you curled up with the latest copy during an extended visit to Panera Bread or Starbucks. Urbanite is broad, ambitious and it symbolizes what is right and what is possible in Baltimore. Each month’s issue focused on a theme that celebrated and explored the potential for change in Baltimore.

I’ve been an avid reader of Urbanite since it first hit the stands almost 10 years ago. I have a stash of dog-eared Urbanite issues in my I-cannot-part-with-this-just-yet pile of magazines. Urbanite is Baltimore, and Baltimore is Urbanite. It wasn’t slick and pretentious, but rather gritty and real. Its vibrancy reflected that of its readership, and that’s what made Urbanite more accessible than other local publications. I could open an issue and see familiar names –those of fellow writers, faculty and classmates from Hopkins — in the bylines.

I took the plunge in 2008 and submitted a piece to Urbanite’s “What You’re Writing” feature (using my maiden name). You can read it below. (According to Zurawik’s article, Urbanite’s website will be shut down any day now, so I wanted to capture it for posterity.)

Sun columnist Lionel Foster wrote fitting tribute to Urbanite magazine and its staff in the paper last Friday. Reading his piece reminded me of how deep the connection was between the magazine and the city, and how much of a void that will be left in its wake.

Urbanite publisher Tracy Ward told the Sun that the possibility that Urbanite might return one day does exist. Perhaps we should not say goodbye just yet, so I think it’s more fitting to say thank you, Urbanite.

And without further adieu my piece “Saying Yes” as it appeared in the August 2008 issue of Urbanite magazine…

Continue reading “Thank You, Urbanite”