Sunday, November 22, 2015

Viva la Paris

It's been a week since the terrorist attacks in Paris (by an evil terrorist group whose name shall never be typed by me), and I just want to take this time to send my love and thoughts to the citizens of Paris. As I have written in the past year, I am in the planning stages of a big European summer trip with my mom and niece next June. We'll be spending 4 days in London and 4 days in Paris. My niece is particularly interested in Paris and this once in a lifetime trip for all of us is going full speed ahead.

I lived in New York City when 9/11 occurred. My apartment was a mere 6 miles away from ground zero. Although it took a few weeks for us New Yorkers to wake up from the shock of the horrific terrorist attack, we did eventually moved on and became stronger and more united. That is what is going to happen in Paris, and any other unfortunate city that meets the same attack by these barbaric subhuman scum in the future. I know good prevails over evil, but there will be times when evil hurts us, but we always get back up, reassess things, and defeat them. This will happen. But meanwhile, I refuse to change my vacation plans. We're going to Paris and we're going to have an excellent visit.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Results!

To my great surprise, it only took two weeks for to send me my DNA results, saving me up to an additional four weeks of waiting. I'm excited to share the findings and for the most part, I'm not too surprised, but it was fun seeing the results of what I suspected. To summarize, my African roots are primarily from West Africa, and the map from representing my DNA ancestry reminds me of just how large and diverse the continent of Africa is. The largest portion of my African ancestry is from Cameroon/Congo (25%), and the remaining 46% is from other parts, including 14% from "Trace regions". According to, trace regions are: These are regions where you seem to have just a trace amount of genetic ethnicity — there is only a small amount of evidence supporting the regions as part of your genetic ethnicity. Because both the estimated amount and the range of the estimate are small, it is possible that these regions appear by chance and are not actually part of your genetic ethnicity.

And Europe is 26% of my DNA Ancestry with 13% of that from Great Britain, and 13% from trace regions in Europe. In the European DNA ancestry break down, the second largest region at 7% is from Spain/Portugal. I had no idea that I have Iberian Peninsula ancestry, so that was the really cool find.

Overall, I find my DNA results to be enlightening and fun. There are so many other DNA tests out there and they are continuously developing these tests to have even better estimations. Perhaps I'll do another test in 10 years to see if the science of the testing can confirm these trace regions or merge my DNA definitively into the currently dominate ancestry regions.

Here is the complete breakdown of my DNA ancestry results:

25%    Cameroon/Congo
23%    Benin/Togo
9%      Mali
14%   Trace African regions (tiny percentages from five other African countries)
13%   Great Britain
7%     Spain/Portugal
3%     Scandinavia
2%      Ireland
1%      Europe East
3%      Native American/Asian
100% = ME

Friday, November 13, 2015

Love & Vodka is a Fish Out of Water

I got my book signed y'all!
This past Wednesday evening (Nov. 11th) reminded me of why I love living in Ann Arbor so much. My long time dear friends, Laurie and Jon Wilson, invited me to the book launch and reading of R. J. Fox's new book, Love & Vodka - My Surreal Adventures in the Ukraine, which is the first book published under their new publishing company, Fish Out of Water ( The reading was appropriately held at the downtown Ann Arbor bookstore, Literati. A brilliant corner bookstore that reminds me of my days in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City circa 2000. Nothing beats buying a book and then shoving a fancy $5 cupcake into your mouth as you walk home to read your new find.

RJ reading from 'Love & Vodka'
R.J.'s new book is about his ambitious endeavor to travel from the States to the Ukraine to ask a girl he just met on the street, to marry him. It's a funny story about how a young American experiences life so bizarre and completely different from his Michigan and California life, all in the pursuit of happiness. R.J. read for a bit and answered about a dozen questions. I knew going into the reading that this was a book I wanted to buy, and after R.J. shared some key bits from the book, I was sold, this is going to be a great, funny, and educational read.

Jon and R. J. toasting the book launch with a shot of honey vodka.
Jon and Laurie worked with R.J. for seven years to make that evening come to fruition. And if there ever was an example of synchronicity, Nov 11th was the night because it was that very evening, seven years earlier, when the Wilsons and R.J. friended each other on Facebook and began sharing dreams about book writing and creating a publishing company. Yup, the universe works in mysterious ways, but you have to put the action into motion to get what you want.

Please check out Jon and Laurie's Fish Out of Water publishing website (read about the book or short story submission guidelines), and order RJ's book! Cheers to Jon, Laurie, and R.J!

This was a deliciously smooth vodka.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Peace of Mind

My zen is coming into balance.

If you were to talk to the Simone of August 30th of this year, and then talk to the Simone of today, October 30th, you'd think you were speaking to two different people. That's just how remarkable the turn of events in my life has been in this span of 60 days. The stress of devoting 8.5 hours a day at a place that was gnawing at my soul was taking it's toll. But through a miracle from the universe, I got out of that place, and I'm in a more professional environment that has had a better impact on my body, mind, and spirit. Now I'm still running around the place and I have new work related stress and pressures, but it's manageable, and, part of the job, as long as I manage it well, which I will do. The most important change is that the work environment is not toxic, the people are nice and professional, and, it's quiet and non-political. All of these changes have made me sleep better, feel better about myself, I can meditate better, and wake up anticipating the day. What's in the past is in the past and what didn't kill me, just made me stronger and believing that there's always something out there that's better for me. I found a great zen balance for my life right now.

Who am I really?

I did a cool thing last week. I ordered one of those DNA kits from You provide a saliva sample and it takes about six weeks for you to get the results back about your ancestry DNA. To be honest, I have been curious about my ancestry since I was a kid. Looking at family photos of people I never knew or met, but I always wondered who were they, where did they came from, and who was their family, and where did they come from?  Of course, I identify as black, or someone whose predominate ancestral DNA is from somewhere in Africa. However, based on my appearance, I have European ancestry too, and most likely some Native American. And through this DNA test from, I will once and for all know the answer to, Who Am I? In this political correct society we live in, and the neat little proper racial categories Americans just love to put each of us into, I want to ultimately know who I am, down to the very DNA fiber that makes me, ME. I know my physical appearance says I am more than what others feel more comfortable in referring me to. I have always felt that if just one of my non-African ancestors didn't exist, or did not meet up with the person(s) who helped build up what my current DNA is, I would NOT be alive as I am today. So each DNA donor from whatever continent is 100% important and necessary in making what I am 100% of today. And that's just the damn bold truth that a lot of people don't care to embrace because it's too inconvenient and it messes up political demographic power games.

I'll get the results by mid-December so please come back here to find out who is Simone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Room With a View

It's been a couple of weeks since I started my new job and I'm really liking it. Here is an image of the view from my office. Yes, an office, all by myself. Previously, I was in a cubicle at a very busy corner, sitting next to an immature, unprofessional idiot who spied on me. And I was HER boss! But that's in the past. All good things come to those who wait, and I waited a very long time for this view and to work in an environment that appreciates me and provides opportunities for growth.

Friday, September 25, 2015

I'm Moving Onto Something New

Sometimes you just gotta say, 'Fuck it', and just do it.

Whew! I waited for this day for a very, very long time. It has been officially announced at work today that October 2nd is my last day and I could not be more relieved. I can't share any details yet, but those who know me, know that I have suffered in silence for far too long, and it has affected my body, health, and mind. The Universe paid off for me in spades and my future is very, very bright indeed and I'm on the mend.

When you dedicate 8 hours of your daily life to a job, you should like it and the people. Sadly, that was not my case. But I had a job to do, and bills to pay. Sadly, I reckon that's what it is for a lot of people. The timing to leave was set for me a month ago, and with the grace of God, I met that goal. I was damned determined to meet this goal for once and for all. I have accomplished so much in the past several months leading up to this day, and I'm very grateful to whatever mysterious force that kept me positive and determined. I know now that I can battle any shit that comes my way. I will fall down, but I will always pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep walking towards my goal. I had a goal by time my birthday came (Sept 30th), and dammit, I made that goal! My birthday gift to me.

At some point in the near future, I'll share more details, but for now, as I close one door and barricade it shut and forget about it, another door opens and the path ahead of it is full of sunshine!

Never, never, never give up!

Monday, September 14, 2015

TIFF 40: Days 1-5

I have a much needed break between screenings here at the 40th Toronto Int'l Film Festival. It's always so exciting to be in Toronto, and the film festival makes it all the more fun and exciting. So far, I have seen some very cool films, and several that I did not like at all.

Each year I assess the festival and it's getting grander and grander each year, with more people attending each year. And like in years past, changes are made at the festival for regular movie fans and industry folk. Some changes are good, some not so good. The primary not so good one is that screening tickets were much harder to come by this year because they sold out almost instantly. And the film schedule was very, very tight this year. As you can imagine, 399 films spread out over 10 days is a lot! It's almost too much and causing screening conflicts. So not only was I shut out of The Martian, Demolition, and Black Mass, several other films were in direct scheduling conflict with other films I wanted to see, leaving me in the position of not being able to see a certain film during this festival.

But of the films I have seen, here is a quick run down of what I have seen so far. I'm not going to go info a full review, just a brief description and the grade:

Son of Saul - a horrifying holocaust film from one man's perspective as he desperately tries to give a dead child a proper Jewish burial... at the sake of his and other's escape plans. A-

Our Brand is Crisis - American political campaign consultants hired to help Bolivian presidential candidates win an election. I hated this with the passion of a thousand suns. It was not funny and I tire of the Americans save the day theme crap. D+

Michael Moore
Where to Invade Next - Michael Moore explores social, financial, educational, health, etc., programs in select European countries that the USA should adopt to improve our country. Standard Moore comparison documentary of how America sucks in so many things and fail its citizens. If anything, this document, as well intended as it was, made me embarrassed to be an American because of the significant flaws in our society and government. B+

Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen with producers
I Saw the Light - Tom Hiddleston plays Hank Williams and shows how this beloved country singer's alcohol abuse and physical problems, as well as his philandering ways, made him a spiritually broken man by the young age of 29. Tom sang all the songs and he was fantastic, as was Elizabeth Olsen as Hank's first wife. You don't need to be a country music lover to appreciate this modest film. B

Eddie, Amber Heard, Alicia Vikander
The Danish Girl - Yet again, Eddie Redmayne gives another Oscar performance as a man who discovers that deep within himself, he's female. With the love and support of his wife played by Alicia Vikander, he becomes Lillie and takes a great gamble to finally be happy in life by being who she really is. A very nice film, but it will be controversial with some people. B+

Kill Your Friends - An A/R record company executive will do anything to anyone in order to reach the top of the record company. Set in London in the 90s, the soundtrack to the film is awesome. B

Legend - Tom Hardy plays both of the deadly Kray boys, Reggie and Ronnie, as they set out to make names for themselves in the 1960s in London. One is clinically insane, the other is more diplomatic but with anger management issues. A very entertaining film which showcases what an incredible actor Hardy is. A-

Equals - Set in the future after over 70% of humanity has died from wars, this dystopian society has outlawed emotions, which has been proven to be the cause of the devastation of the world. However, some people awaken from the reprogramming of their DNA and start to express emotions which they desperately try to 'hide' from others out of fear of being encourage to commit suicide, or be permanently cured. Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult are both very good in this sci-fi drama. B+

High Rise - I had high hopes for this film, but it appears to be an attempt to be Snowpiercer but in a high rise condo in 70s London. Totally incoherent, nonsensical, and disorienting. I hated this, and walked out just before it ended. F

Director and cast of Room
Room - This last minute surprise donor screening turned out to be a real gem. Brie Larson is a young woman trapped in a room with her son, Jacob Tremblay, for many years and together, they help each other to survive by creating their own new world. Love and will power does prevail in the end. A fantastic film! A

Jonas Cuaron and Gael Garcia Bernal
Desierto - A self-appointed American vigilante takes it upon himself to be on the lookout for Mexican migrants crossing the border. He murders them with his long-range rifle, and a cat and mouse game of hunting down the remaining few becomes a very chilling and tense drama. Directed by Jonas Cuaron and starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. B+

I have two more days of the festival and three more films to screen. In the next update, I'll write more about my experiences here in Toronto and the festival.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

TIFF 2015

I'll be heading up to Toronto next week for my 12th TIFF in a row, and again, I'm ever indebted to my wonderful friend and TIFF host Glenn for making this all possible! While I was dismayed that Michael Fassbender's Steve Jobs was skipping TIFF, I have found many other films that will bid my time in Toronto well. My TIFFr schedule of the13 films I'll be seeing can be viewed at!

This year I will drive my new car to Toronto, right after work, next Wednesday, 9 September. I want to avoid that crazy early day driving into Toronto that I would have encountered had I drove up there early Thursday morning. Also, it would make for a long day after driving 5 hours. Driving up the night before, I'll be in Toronto before 11pm, and I could go straight to bed and start my TIFF off fresh.

As per my film schedule, I'm looking forward to seeing Tom Hardy, Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Nicholas Hoult at their film premieres. Although I decided not to watch Beasts of No Nation, I'll try to check out the red carpet arrivals so I can see Idris Elba and Cary Fukunaga in the flesh!

TIFF is getting more popular each year and we were shut out of several films this year, which is not cool at all, especially since my host is a patron member. Some of my TIFF friends are also experiencing difficulties in getting tickets to screenings they really want. But because we love the festival so much, we go through this each year and just deal with it. I'll being using my iPad for the first time at TIFF so I'll be able to update Instagram and Twitter more steadily this year.