E-mail moni at firstname.lastname@example.org.WHO THE HECK IS MONI? Many of you have wondered, WHO'S MONI? Many of you only know me by my voice (which is a cross between professionalism and a little of don't play with me boy attitude), depending on the time of day you happen to talk to me. Before the truth is exposed in the tabloids, here's the unauthorized and un-unauthorized version of WHO THE HECK IS MONI?
Where do I begin? I was born in the backseat of a van of gypsies, on the way to a carnival. OOPS! Is that my story or did I read that somewhere? I'm a single, 42 year old, freelance writer, living somewhere between Mardi Gras Lane and Gumbo Bayou. I'm also the proud mother a/k/a ATM machine, of a 23 year old son/artist, who is currently attending graduate school in New York. My poems have been published in Christian newsletters, anthologies, on the internet and local and nationwide newsletters and magazines.
Back to the beginning. There are three accomplices responsible for all the madness - my father, mother and high school English teacher.
Accomplice No. 1 - When I was in kindergarten, my teacher asked the class what did we want to be when we grew up? From the mind of a five year old, my first response was I wanted to be tall. (I'm only 5ft, which explains my answer even way back then). She smiled, then rephrased the question. I thought for a second and said, "I want to be the President of the United States." (Little did I know I'd be accused of sleeping with the President, or was that Bill Hinton?) Anyway. . .
All the boys laughed and yelled, "Girls can't be the President." Boys were stupid anyway, and they certainly didn't know everything. I remembered hearing that it was an important job, but I really didn't know what the President did. Soooo, my quick come back was, "I mean, I want to be Mrs. President of the United States." (Go Hillary!!) This time, no one laughed.
However, that question bothered me all day. My first mistake was asking my dad what the President did. You see, my father was a history teacher. He pulled out this big book (which I later found out was an encyclopedia), and tried to explain the election process to a five year old. Two hours later, I decided to change my career. Because I know how to write all my ABC's, I think I'll be a writer instead, I declared. My dad laughed and said, You can be anything you want to be when you grow up, and daddy will buy it for you.
Accomplice No. 2 - My mother is probably most responsible for creating a monster. Whenever I disagreed with her rules or punishments (which was always), she allowed me to express my opinions, in what she called the mad "letters". Each "mad letter" had to meet certain criteria. I had to explain what I was angry about, whether I was right or wrong, and if I was her, list suggestions of how I would have handled the situation better. Back then, I was mad about everything - going to bed before The Ed Sullivan Show, and especially the dreaded, early summertime curfew. The mad letter technique was an excellent teaching tool. It was through these written expressions of anger and resolution, I again declared I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.
Accomplice No. 3 - My high school English teacher is responsible for my stage fright. Every time I had to read or recite a poem (always standing in front of the class), one of two things happened -- I fainted, or I threw up. Needless to say, after throwing up for about a month, and my so-called friends complaining about vomit on their shoes, Ms. "P" came up with a plan. She ordered a podium. Well, it worked. First, the podium would break my fall. Second, any urge I had to vomit would be right there in my face. I still get a little queasy speaking in front of large groups. Now, I just warn people ahead of time not to sit in the front row.
Between my father buying my first typewriter when I was eight, my mother's mad letter exercises, and Ms. P. putting a sign on the door NO VOMITING ALLOWED,my future was inevitable.
As a teenager, I kept a diary that chronicled my thoughts, emotions, and dreams. This was the beginning of my so-called writing career. High school and college were testing grounds to display my talent. Lack of validation and negative influences altered my path. For the past 20 years, I have worked in the corporate arena expecting my skills and work ethics to be rewarded. However, through honest soul-searching, I discovered that self- worth comes from inner harmony. Therefore, the road I had taken simply brought me back to the beginning - my dream of becoming a writer.
Writing is my only form of creative expression. In September 1992, I co-authored and self-published my first book of poetry, "The Mirror of Perception". Twelve local bookstores agreed to sell our book. I think we made enough to buy lunch that week. I've been told that poetry is not a very lucrative market. My belief, however, is any commercial success is lagniappe. But that's not why I write. I write because NO ONE CAN EXPRESS HOW I FEEL about my life experiences better than me. I also hope that my poems provide some comfort and communicate to those facing difficult times, that they're not alone. Whatever affects my sister or brother, whether it be disease, homelessness, injustice, pain or hope, it affects me.
I believe I've been called to a different type of ministry - the one of storytelling. Like the hieroglyphics our ancestors left behind, I too want to continue telling stories. Currently, I am working on my second and third books of poetry, and a suspense novel.
Just when I got accustomed to feeling sorry for myself about my career choice (keeping my day job to support my writing hobby), I received my first Walt's Friday Inspiration. And, as they say, the rest is history!
That pretty much sums things up. The HBO version of WHO THE HECK IS MONI is under production. Whoopi has agreed to play MONI. (Just kidding. I intend to play myself).