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Photo by Nate Smith on Unsplash

Today started off terrible. As par for the course at my job recently, people were sending me emails asking for small edits or complaining about things that (at least in my mind) require far less energy to fix on your own than typing an email. I also found out that I’m “not the right fit at this time” for another literary agent and I endured what I consider thee most nerve-wrecking experience ever as a creative when I had someone change my work and THEN, ask me to edit their edits.

I’m a writer by trade. My 9–5 involves writing emails, newsletters, and other donation solicitations for various nonprofits. I also write for a small company that spotlights unsung artists and entrepreneurs, and if I’m lucky, in between those jobs and some Twitter scrolling, I’ll sneak in a freelance gig or some writing for pleasure. …

The Four Horsemen dominated a decade in music’s most impactful genre.

Art By Elsa Smith: 4 Horsemen of the Hipocalypse
Art By Elsa Smith: 4 Horsemen of the Hipocalypse

“I think it’s good but I don’t know if it’ll work.” Those were my words to a small gathering of friends in a tightly packed dorm room — ironically at one of North Carolina’s smallest colleges. We were listening to an upcoming Carolina rapper who was rumored to be signing a deal with hip-hop icon Jay Z. At that time — August 2009, I didn’t know who J. Cole was. Drake was setting dorms ablaze as burned CDs circulated of his So Far Gone mixtape (dropped earlier in the year). …

It doesn’t really matter who you are or where you’re from. At some point, life will humble you. From something as trivial as losing a game to something as devastating as losing a loved one, every moment that life reminds us we are not in control resets our perspective…hopefully towards appreciation.

I remember when my brother came up from North Carolina to visit. I met him at a restaurant and my card declined when I went to pay. I’d been working so much that I completely forgot I hadn’t been paid yet. …

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I remember the first time I found the coveted zone. It was middle school (junior high) and we were playing a pickup basketball game indoors. I don’t remember much that happened before the game. In fairness it was decades ago BUT, I remember very vividly the feeling.

Everything clicked for me: shots fell, defensively I was focused, the game slowed and ironically I remember NOT remembering anything else that day — not homework, school drama, or circumstances at home. For that period of time, I remember focusing purely on the game and time didn’t exist.

I remember getting home and bragging to my family. I called my friend Andre to confirm that I indeed scored all of our team’s points. In my mind it was easily 40 but since we were only playing to 33, I’m inclined to believe Andre who calmly but supportively reminded my dad and I that it was a “solid 20 points.” …

WARNING: This post contains explicit language.

I struggled mentally and physically for the past two weeks. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (even typing that feels weird as I remind myself that real people are so much more than headlines and hash-tags)…their deaths weighed heavily on me and to feel — not just see but feel — the emotional reactions from friends, family and complete strangers put me in a mental space where I didn’t feel like I could be helpful. …


James Randolph

James Randolph is an American author and journalist.

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