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Thursday, July 26, 2012

MTA meetings and Dara the amateur journalist

Monday, July 23, 2012

"This is 42nd Street Grand Central..." the 4 train announcement says as loads of people rush on and off the train. Thankfully I got off without being pushed. I forgot how crowded this station gets in the morning. As I exit the station my legs begin to buckle. "Oh legs don't fail me now!" I say to myself trying to get up the stairs. My stomach is in knots while quickly walking down E42nd Street. Turning down on Madison Ave., I feel excited that I'm attending a place where news reporters go to cover stories. A place where important people work and discuss the future of our transportation system. I am going to a MTA meeting to cover a story about transit matters. My mom said to me before leaving the house, "Dara the journalist?" I smiled nervously saying, “Well, you never know.” After being searched by police officers and having a brief conversation with the security guard, I take the elevator to the 5th floor. Suited security men surround the area, board members sit at the long conference table, and the MTA Chairman sits at the front looking serious. People sit around me, some with notepads in hand. Maybe they’re writers like me, or people from the press.

My curiosity overwhelms me as I listen to the Chairman say, "This meeting has now come to order." For a moment, I feel like I’m in a court room. Members begin to speak, I take notes. I notice one of the security guys looking at me. Maybe he's seen me before. This is my second time being inside the boardroom. I thought to myself, "What would I say if he said, 'Miss what are you doing here?'" My stomach begins to knot up again. I stayed for three out of the many meetings scheduled. I had a lot of notes and  three booklets from each meeting I attended. Each booklet outlines what's discussed at the meeting along with charts, documents, and information that's new to an amateur like me. When it was time to leave, I headed to the ladies room. I pass by the press room where I see young professionals with laptops and cameras. I was fascinated. I couldn't wait to go home to write my article. Trying to translate all those facts and figures and condense that  information into a short article wasn't easy, but it was done.

Here's my story for
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's the MTA board meeting which is expected to generate a large crowd of community residents, NYC Council members, and lots of press. While putting on my blazer and looking in the mirror this morning, I asked myself, "Why am I going to this meeting? I am not a journalist, I don't work for the media. I'm just a freelance writer trying to get my feet in the door. I don't belong there." I then took out my makeup bag and applied on some eye shadow. Still looking in the mirror, I smiled and said to myself, "Yes Dara, you do belong there." Going up the stairs from 42nd Street Grand Central station my legs didn't buckle. I felt nervous but more excited. I said "Good morning" to the same security guard I saw on Monday,  and to the police officers who searched me. I felt confident giving the guard my ID when he said, "You can't go to the 5th floor, it's too packed." For a moment I lost my breath. I asked if I could just stand by and listen. He looked irritated but said I could go to the 3rd floor instead. When I entered the elevator I pressed 3. When the floor arrived, I didn’t get off and went to the 5th floor instead. Two nice ladies greeted me and said I could go inside. One of the suited security guys politely told me I couldn't stay and even apologized. I thanked him and I went to the third floor. I sat in a small room with a non-working TV. There were a few of us, some becoming frustrated. I was worried. It was minutes to 10am and I was missing out on what was happening. I began to pray asking God to allow me to get to the 5th floor. Moments later, a nice lady asked me and two others to come with her. Once we got to the hallway, she said, "I'm taking you to the fifth floor." I smiled and did a happy dance in my head.

It was a packed house with many cameras and people. I listened to speakers thank the MTA for restoring cut bus service, and suggestions on how to keep our system running effectively. I saw one reporter from Channel 7 news and someone who looks like a reporter from NY1. I looked for my favorite news station, PIX 11 but didn't see them. I knew my friend and reporter for PIX 11 was there. I smiled knowing we were only a room away from each other. I felt great knowing that the person I admire was there covering such an important event, and I was there doing the same. The Chairman thanked board members for their hard work and expressed his dedication to providing the best service for commuters. Afterwards, I asked the nice suited security guy if I could stay for the press conference. Since I didn’t have a “Press card” I couldn’t attend. A cameraman from NY1 overheard my request. While taking the elevator, he asked if I had a press card. I told him no and later said, “But someday I’ll have one.” As we shared our interest in journalism, I asked him if he could take a picture of me in front of the MTA building. He did and I thanked him for it. He shook my hand and wished me luck in my endeavors. I didn’t feel nervous anymore, in fact I felt confident. I can see myself doing this more often. My dad would be so proud of me. He’s always wanted me to pursue journalism as a career. I’m happy I have many interests and grateful to be pursuing them all, even if I am just an amateur.

Here’s my story from

Brooklyn Bridge Walk

Sunday, July 22, 2012
“Yay” and applause is what I heard from volunteers as we walked on the Brooklyn Bridge. All of us in red t-shirts, representing an agency that supports youth programs, I joined to show my support. I love to walk too. The last time I walked across the bridge was a few years ago. It was nice to do this again. The weather was great, not too hot and had a cool breeze. There were many tourists, cyclists, and our group adding red to the scenery. I was in the back of the group. I put on my iPod and as the music played, I admired Manhattan’s skyline. I took pictures from my camera phone. I reflected and smiled as the sun beamed down on my head. Six months ago, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to walk again. I didn’t think I would be able to partake in such events. My hip didn’t hurt as I walked, I felt complete. I also thought about the great summer I’ve been having. From attending events to hanging out with friends, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I’m allowing myself to have fun. I’ve laughed more this summer than I did last; I’m grateful for that. When I realized we were crossing over the water, I stopped to take more pictures. 

How beautiful Manhattan looked from the bridge. I’ve always loved the city, I was born there. Although I consider myself a Brooklynite since I grew up in Brooklyn, my birth was in a hospital in Manhattan. Maybe someday I’ll live there; maybe I’ll remain in Brooklyn. Either option is a good one. As we approached the ending of the bridge, I didn’t want to leave. Before I knew it we were in a nearby park where different programs of this agency were there. Between the red and yellow t-shirts, it made the park colorful. I saw former co-workers whom I was happy to see. Some haven’t seen me since the surgery. One in particular was the MC of the event. As we walked by he said into the mic, “And there goes Dara on the trail!” I smiled saying, “You know it!” That made my day. I felt good being there and happier to just walk.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ode to PIX 11

Scenes of New York City flash across the TV screen
Theme music plays, reporters on the scene
Welcome to the PIX 11 news at ten
The place of great newswomen and men
How I enjoy tuning in every night
Your delivery of news is out of sight
Look forward to Jodi’s Twitter question
Congrats to every PIX Fix mention
Monica and Howard get the job done
Mocker’s trail is always a lot of fun
Reliable weather from Mr. G’s forecast
Mendte’s commentary cannot be surpassed
Debra, Mannarino, and James Ford
Stories captivate audience, never bored
Interesting talk from Lionel and Munk
Keeping it real, slam dunk
Appreciate my stories put on-air
Just goes to show how much you care
Loyal fan of PIX news, proud to say
Continue to watch you everyday


Lately, I've had some interesting encounters with gentleman. Many who are much older than me, from different backgrounds, and have more life experience. It started last Wednesday. I stood by the waterfront, and as the East River Ferry pulled out one of the workers smiled and waved at me. I waved back. At first I thought he was waving at someone else. I realized it was just me standing there. On Thursday, I went to a cafe where I had lunch and waited for a friend. My cell phone's battery was running low. I asked one of the workers if I could charge my phone. He asked if I had a phone charger and when I said yes he replied, "Sure, one hand washes the other. I do this for you maybe someday you'll do something for me. You never know!" I thanked him. As I waited for my friend, the gentleman asked if I was single. When I told him yes, he said he was also single (I did not believe him), and that we should "hangout." I laughed it off saying, "You are too kind." He laughed and apologized saying, "You're so sweet!" He later told me he's 63 years old. Just yesterday I had a nice conversation with a gentleman, younger than 63, who was very personable. When I bought lunch for my friend and I, he was nice and asked if I would come back. I smiled and replied, "You'll see me again."

So what's the deal with older gentleman approaching me? I must admit it's flattering since I have respect for my elders. I think the one thing I like about older gentleman is their chivalry. They tend to make me feel like a lady than younger men. No offense to the young guys, I still like them too. I also think it's the way I carry myself that plays a part in their approach. I'm friendly and if someone is nice to me I return the niceness. Out of all the gentleman I encountered last week, the one I met yesterday was the nicest. I always enjoy good conversation, I appreciate meeting nice people.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Transitional Love part 6

It’s 1:45pm and the newsroom is busy with staff members, interns, and phones that won’t stop ringing. There’s no set lunch break. Joe always tells staff, especially reporters, “News never takes a break so I suggest you eat in one hand and have your mic in another.” Majority of the staff doesn’t take what he says personally. Behind his gruff exterior, they know he means well. Joy is still getting used to her boss. He’s made several passes at her and each time she turns him down. As a divorcee, she isn’t looking to get involved with any man, especially not Joe. Joe, also a divorcee is still bitter in how his marriage ended. He flirts with Joy only when they’re alone, and likes to throw his authority around with staff. Joy is not bothered by his antics. She only has one goal in mind, to make channel 2 the most watched local news, including their sister station channel 8.
            “Hi Eric, good to see ya” Katie says as she opens the door to let Eric in.
“Hi Katie, how are things?”
“The usual, I’m working on a scandal.”
Eric laughs, “You want scandal start with this place!”
Katie giggles, “You know I can’t do that. So what brings you here?”
Eric smirks, “That Joy woman asked to see me…”
Katie’s face expression changed quickly as Joy stands behind Eric.
            “That Joy woman has been expecting you.”
Eric turns around and without hesitation says, “Hello Ms. Saunders, can I call you Ms. Saunders? Or is it Mrs. Saunders?”
Joy unmoved by Eric’s humor responds sternly, “It’s Joy. Let’s go to my office.”
Eric reaches his hand out saying, “After you,” and looks at Katie making a funny face. Katie quietly laughs and turns back to her computer.

Eric walks in the office. Joy asks him to close the door. Joy sits behind her desk while Eric sits on the chair in front of her.
“You know Joy, you really need to get better chairs” Eric says rocking in the chair.
“Eric let’s get down to business. I asked you to come down here because I have an offer that I think you’d be interested in.”
Eric looks at Joy and doesn’t say anything. Joy, feeling irritated by Eric’s nonchalant attitude, continues talking.
“There’s an opening at channel 8. I know Joe said you would be on general assignment but I pulled some strings and we want you to be a commentator instead. You would have a segment on the six o’clock news and another at 11pm.You would be commentating on stories of your specific interest. You may have a weekend segment.”
Eric folds his arms. Joy leans forward and says in a low voice, “Look Eric, I’m trying to help you out here. Joe doesn’t know about this opportunity.”
“So Joe doesn’t know huh? This sounds good but why are you doing this? What’s in it for you?”
“The fact I can help someone that’s damn good at their job is satisfying for me. Plus, you need to be on channel 8.”
            “Joe put you up to this didn’t he? Listen Joy, no offense but I don’t believe in handouts. If I wanted to return to channel 8 I could. I don’t need your help—“
Joy interrupts Eric, “I know that, you are Eric Moore…” she smiles, “But there is another reason why I’m offering you this opportunity.”
Eric stands up, his voice elevates, “See I knew there had to be something in it for you! So what is it? It can’t be personal…I have a girlfriend.”
Joy smirks and sarcastically says, “Don’t flatter yourself Moore.
Eric laughs. Joy stands and walks to the front of her desk. She leans back folding her hands.
            “You can be a real ass you know that.”
            “Yeah I heard that before. So what’s up Saunders?”
“Well you already know that channel 5 news is pulling a lot of ratings right. I was brought here to make sure channel 2 not only generate ratings but beats out our competition…”
“And?” Eric says rolling his hand forward.
Joy smiles, “You can be the one to make all this possible. Let’s face it; your show had a great audience. People enjoyed watching you. Since its cancellation, channel 8 hasn’t been the same. They’re okay in ratings but not where they should be. I figured with you back on 8 and me here at 2, together we can top channel 5. So…do we have a deal?”
Before Eric could answer, Joe comes into the office. Joe points at Eric and begins to chuckle.
Eric becoming irritated looks at Joe and says, “What’s so funny?”
Joe doesn’t answer Eric and instead looks at Joy. “Private meeting with Moore and I wasn’t invited? What the hell is going on kids?”
Joy shrugs her shoulders at Joe saying, “Nothing much.”
Eric stands up and walks towards Joe.
He puts his hand on Joe’s shoulder and says, “Here’s the deal, um, Joy here offered me a job back at channel 8. A commentator gig at that...” Eric stops to look over at Joy and back at Joe. “…And I decided to take her up on the offer.”
Joe pushes Eric’s hand off his shoulder.
Joy smiles and says to Eric, “Great, I’ll call you with the details and start date.”
Eric nods his head and proceeds to walk out. Joe hardly moves out of the way.  He closes the door and looks at Joy in disbelief.

Transitional Love part 5

The alarm goes off. It’s 6:15am.
“Makayla, turn off your alarm,” Eric says tapping Makayla’s arm.
She moans and says in a low voice, “It’s over there” pointing to the dresser.
Eric gets out of bed and takes Makayla’s phone.
“How do you turn off this damn thing?” Eric says grumpily.
Makalya sits up and holds her hand out. Eric gives her the phone and she turns off the alarm. “Happy now babe, let’s go back to sleep” Makayla says putting the phone under the pillow and lays back down.
Eric looks at Makalya.
She rolls over and notices him staring at her. “What’s wrong babe?”
Eric smiles and shakes his head no. Makayla smiles back and moves her index finger indicating for him to come towards her. Eric climbs back into bed lying on top of Makayla.
She rubs his face and says, “Have I ever told you how incredibly handsome you are Eric Moore?”
“No you haven’t,” Eric says smirking.
“Well allow me to show how much I am a fan of your handsomeness,” Makayla says pulling Eric closer.
They kiss. Eric begins kissing down her neck as Makayla moans in enjoyment. She caresses his back as she arches hers.
“Make love to me Eric,” Makayla whispers.
Eric looks up at Makayla and says in a low voice, “I plan on it baby,” and pulls the pillow from under her head. Makayla’s phone hits the floor.

“Joy, so what’s the deal with Moore?” Joe says to Joy as she stands waiting for the elevator.
“Good morning to you too Joe,” Joy replies with a smirk as she presses the up button.
Joe responds sarcastically, “Yeah yeah, mornings aren’t meant to be good. It’s just another reminder of the bullshit waiting for you at the office.”
The elevator door opens and they both walk in. Pressing 16, Joy turns to Joe giggling.
“What’s so funny?” Joe says.
“You! You are funny Joe. You sure know how to start the day. And to answer your question no I haven’t heard from Eric. He hasn’t returned any of my calls.”
“Typical! He’s a real ass. A damn good reporter too…you didn’t hear me say that,” Joe says abruptly looking at his watch.
The elevator reaches the 16th floor. On the wall is a huge channel 2 logo. They turn right and down the hallway to the glass doors. Joe opens the door and Joy walks in first. Katie sits at her desk reading Love and Self-Boundaries magazine. She is unaware that Joe and Joy are standing there watching her.
“Ahem!” Joe yells out looking stern.
“Oh, good morning Joe, good morning Joy, I’m sorry I was just taking a break…” Katie nervously says as she tosses the magazine in her desk.
“Relax dear…” Joy says and turns to Joe. “Joe, stop scaring this poor girl!”
Joe smirks, “She has no reason to be scared of me, come on!” as he walks towards his office.
Katie looks at Joy, “I apologize… I’m working on a story about a funding scandal at local high schools.”
Joy puts her hand up, “Katie, you don’t have to give me an oral report on what you’re working on. I just want to see the finish product. I trust you will deliver.”
As Joy begins to walk away, Katie stands up, “I really appreciate that Joy.” Joy turns around, smiles at Katie and walks away.

Eric’s phone is ringing. He left his phone on the couch in the living room.
Eric, cuddled under Makayla says, “Kayla, can you get that for me.”
Makayla begins to sit up when Eric pulls her back down.
“Nope I changed my mind,” Eric says and starts kissing her.
“Eric let me get that, it could be important. Then round two,” Makayla says giggling.
“Don’t you mean round three, four, five…”
Eric replies laughing as Makayla gets out of bed. She grabs his phone from the couch.
 As she walks back to the bedroom, Eric says, “Who is it?”
“Like I’m supposed to know! Here.” Makayla smiles and hands the phone to Eric.
Before Eric answers the phone, Makayla whispers, “I’m going to make some coffee,” and walks out the room.
Eric answers the phone. “Hello?”
“Hello Eric, this is Joy Saunders.”
Eric rolls his eyes and replies, “Hello Joy, so you finally caught up to me. What can I do for you?”
“Well I would like to meet with you and discuss an opportunity. Do you have time this afternoon?”
Eric hisses, “Let me check my schedule…oh yeah I don’t have one remember?” There was a brief silence on the phone.
“Well Eric that may not last long. Meet me at my office at 2 and we will discuss details.”
“What makes you think I don’t have plans Joy Saunders?” Eric replies sarcastically.
Joy’s tone changed from friendly to stern, “Eric, be here at 2 okay. See you then.” Before Eric could respond, Joy hangs up the phone. Eric looks at the phone and shakes his head. He tosses it on the bed and walks into the living room.
“Something smells good Kayla!” Eric says sitting on the couch.
Makayla peeks out from the kitchen, “I’m making brunch. We did have a workout; we need to keep our strength for later.”
As Makayla begins to laugh, Eric walks over and holds her waist.
“As tempting as that sounds, I have to head out later.”
Makayla turns around facing Eric, “Why? Who was that on the phone?”  
Eric smirks, “That Joy woman, you know the one I told you about.”
Makayla goes to check on the eggs cooking in the frying pan. Eric continues talking.
            “Can you believe this woman, calling me first off and telling me I need to meet her at her office at 2? She must be dense! There’s a reason why I told her and Joe to kiss my ass. Says she has some opportunity for me.”
Makayla is attempting to make an omelet but isn’t successful.
She responds, “Well maybe this is a chance to get back on TV Eric. See what she wants.”
Eric comes closer to Makayla and looks at the messy omelet saying, “Uh that doesn’t look appetizing!”
He laughs as Makayla tries to salvage the omelet. Eric appreciates her efforts.
“Kayla, I hear ya…alright I will go on one condition.”
 Makayla turns off the stove with the now scrambled eggs in the pan.
She turns to Eric smiling, “What kind of condition?”
“I want my round six, seven, eight…”
Before Eric could finish, Makayla takes the dishtowel and hits Eric on the arm.
They laugh and Makayla replies, “Alright, just don’t lose your temper when you see her okay.”
Eric smiles and says, “Don’t make me promise.”

Fulton Street

I sat on the bench, a bus hub waiting for the B25 bus. I had music playing in my ears, not thinking about anything when an older gentleman with a cane sat next to me. I sighed as he sat saying, "It's much cooler over here." I turned to him and smiled. He smiled back. Then he began talking about his recent trip to Virginia and how much he enjoyed the outdoors. I agreed with him adding, "I wish I was in nature now. Being here can become boring after awhile, especially when you were born here. I'm tired of this place" and waved my hand. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders saying, "Well..." At that moment I don't know what possessed me to say that but it was too late to take it back. As he continued to speak, a middle-aged woman approached us. She looked at me and said, "Excuse me" and began talking to the gentleman. I think they were neighbors since I heard them say something about sitting in front of their building and a neighbor they both knew. As the bus approached, he told the woman, "I was just sitting here talking to this young lady...what's your name?" I said my name and we shook hands. The lady reached out her hand and said, "Dara, nice to meet you." I said, "Likewise." She never said her name. We said our goodbyes as I got on the bus. Riding downtown, I reflected on the conversation admiring the man's age and his love for nature. I hope when I reach his age I'm somewhere that's natural and I'm happy. While on the bus, I observed Fulton Street, the closed businesses and some people moving about. I remembered the stories my mom and dad told me of how Fulton Street was "back in the day." I can only imagine how it was during the late 60s and 70s. I have a sense of pride visiting Fulton Street since I share the street's name, and my parents grew up there.

I remember how I spent a lot of time during my junior high school days walking up and down Fulton Street, between Bedford and New York Avenues, stopping to look at what the vendors were selling. My friends and I would go into the stores and purchase the Indian made skirts (which I still buy to this day), and go next door to the West Indian shop and buy oils or incense. Sometimes we would go to the Chinese restaurant and have lunch. This was known to be the best takeout; I remember how good their sesame seed chicken and pork fried rice was! That restaurant still exists. Then there's Restoration Plaza and the ice skating rink where we dreamed of going ice skating. We never did. The rink was usually closed. As the bus approached downtown, I was in awe of how much this area changed over the years. I still remember the days of Albee Square Mall, shopping at Rainbow clothing store (still do but at a different location), eating at Wendy's, and visiting the religious store to buy crystals. They had nice pieces of amethyst and clear quartz. There's a new residential complex in its place with various new stores to be opened later this year. I still miss the store Woolworth. I would always buy nail polish for my late grandmother. She loved shopping there too.

Sometimes I feel life has passed by so fast. Fulton Street isn't the same as before. Many businesses are  gone, few to no vendors are selling anything (I really miss buying shell earrings), and it's too quiet. Fulton Street (before reaching downtown) used to be noisy with people bustling around shopping, eating, talking, etc. Fewer people are outside now. Fulton Street used to pride itself on Black culture too. It's not much of that anymore. I miss the vendors selling African art, pictures of sayings about Black pride, and people passing out free newspapers about local meetings and cultural events. I miss that most. This was the one place where I felt proud to be who I am; I felt connected to my own. I don't like seeing the now abandoned houses, empty lots, people sitting outside looking sad, silence. As my dad once told me, "Fulton Street hasn't been the same for a long time. It may never be the same again." Although I'm saddened by this possible fact, I still like it. After all I share its name.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Letting go under sun's reflection

Among a small crowd there’s silence
Water reflects sun’s light in a distance
Pulling out a notebook, find a clean page
My pen takes center stage
“Dearest love” I begin to write
Hoping this letter is worded right
Each word is filled with devotion
Pouring out every bit of emotion
The man I will forever love
He’ll never know except God above
Knowing what is being said
Will never ever be read
No post or email can deliver
This one page filled answer
Well wishes for a happy life
Nothing but smiles, no strife

Efforts made are of no regret
Grateful our paths met
Lingering sadness cannot continue
A decision that's long overdue
Folding up the heartfelt letter
Treating it like some kind of treasure
Walk down the path’s end
Still thinking about my friend
Water catches the tiny note
Watching it stay afloat
Bigger waves quickly grew
Note no longer in my view

Light bounces over moving water
Couldn’t compose myself any longer
Tears fall, goodbye song plays
Reminiscing about the yesterdays
Still hope for a chance at romance
Letting go of this current circumstance