Entries Posted in "Life"

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I've Got Truth In My Belly
June 15, 2009

Alright, back to business. Let's see if we can't make this a daily occurrence, no? My goal is to post here every day, Monday through Friday. Apologies for the short lull. I've spent the last two weeks out shopping for the baby boy we're expecting come early October -- procreation of course being a part of my full scale plan to take over the world. You thought I was "vile"? Just wait for my children. I pity the fool who doubts the abilities of this next generation. Of course I wasn't actually shopping for two entire weeks. Though the thought of that is rather appetizing. I think I shall add that to my list of "things to do before I die." Right before "never run a marathon" and right after "visit every country in the world." Those things aside, raising righteous offspring has always been one of the highest and most anticipated things on said list.

This week marks the sixth month of my pregnancy. While thankfully pregnancy has been a breeze for me, I can say without a doubt that pregnancy, is not a gentleman. It does not open the door for you or give you its coat when you are cold. Instead, it comes forcefully upon you, demanding you tend to it and take notice that there is in fact another human being growing inside of you. Pregnancy is quite the savage -- in the best way possible.

The results of the ungentlemanly nature of pregnancy differs from woman to woman. In my case, each day I grow more and more enlightened by the experience. There is something totally miraculous about the formation of another human being, the likes of which can only confirm one of the most thoroughly disputed realities of our time: that this world and all its inhabitants have been created by design and with the utmost forethought and care.

As fragile and precious as humanity may be, I am growing weary of planet Earth in general. If only I could be alone on an island for then remainder of this pregnancy, just me, my husband and perhaps the entire eight seasons of the Cosby on dvd. Life would be grand.

I've always considered myself a brutally honest person. As a child I was labeled a smart-mouth because I had a knack for stating the obvious at the most inappropriate times. As I grew into adolescence, I honed a quick-wit that I quickly learned had the ability to either cut others or build them up. That life and death were in the power of the tongue. As I grew more mature, I learned how to temper that quick-tongue so as to be more effective in communication and not get myself in too much trouble. Then I got pregnant. After carefully honing the art of tact and decorum over the last 27 years, pregnancy has done a number on my tongue. Whatever internal filter I worked so hard to establish has withered away with every stretch of my growing belly. In short, pregnancy has brought out the uncensored honesty in me.

There are some things I have quietly tolerated for years at a time. However, my now filter-free pregnancy fully rejects these realities and when given the opportunity to say so, my tongue will do just that. Here are just a few of the things perturbing me at the moment:

  • Illegitimate Panhandlers. Walking around downtown Seattle and seeing the "homeless" pan-handling man I've watched stand on the same Seattle street corner he's held for nearly 10 years just about pushed me to my limit. With as much motivation and dedication as he's given to begging for the last 10 years, imagine what he could have accomplished. What a complete and total waste of potential. It saddens and sickens me. For his own good and restoration, someone should demand more of him. I'm not the right person. My words can't be trusted when I'm pregnant.

  • Crocs. If you are not under the age of nine or work in a hospital, you look like a complete idiot. No exception. Crocs are hideous and there are no other excuses to wear them.

  • Outsourced Call Centers. Allow me to preface what I'm about to say by noting that I spent the last four years of my professional corporate life working alongside native East Indians living here in the states. They are my peeps and I love them dearly. I also find East Indians to be among the smartest and most dedicated population I've ever met. Their work ethic puts many of us American-bred sloths to shame. I love my brethren overseas, but if I place one more customer service call and have to talk to improperly trained Prateek posing as "Bob," reading a script with a fake New York accent, saying "I'm sorry about that ma'am" every 10 seconds, I'm going to disown "Slumdog Millionaire" as my favorite movie of 2008. I swear to you I will do it. I will shun all stories of heroics by call center chai wallahs. I don't like being lied to, "Bob."

    Just for kicks I always ask call center reps where they're located. When they lie and tell me they're in New Jersey, my favorite question to ask is, "So how's the weather there?" I don't blame the call center employees in the least. I blame the lazy, greedy, disorganized and inefficient companies who don't know how to scale their business and provide effective customer service.

  • "Green" Products. If one more company comes out with a new "green" environmentally responsible version of their product, I'm going to scream. This whole charade is SO not about the environment. This is about finding more ways to make money. And that's fine and well, but at least fess up to that. Don't go all posing like you're on this "Corporate Social Responsibility" kick. I'm all for biodegradable materials. But if you really think Clorox, chief procurers of the toxic cash cow of bleach for nearly a century, is really all that interested in the environment, you are sadly mistaken. I call a bluff. A really really smart one at that.

  • Accusations of "Hate Speech." Forgive me if I roll my eyes every time someone tries to assert that the mere observation of common sense is "hate speech." I am certain the original derivation of this term is actually legit. I wish people would use it when appropriate as I fear it's lost its potency. I don't don't condone language that is intended to degrade or incite violence or prejudice against a person or a group of people. If that's the hate speech you want to talk about, then I'll get on board. But if you want to cry "hate speech" as a buffer for the reality that you don't like hearing the truth or you are trying to defend a lifestyle choice, then you my friend, are making a donkey out of yourself.

  • Applebee's. I need for someone, anyone to be PLEASE explain to me how this restaurant chain is still in existence? Everything they serve is horrendous. The entire menu is like a gallery of regrettable food. Applebee's is a shining example of why there are no excuses for lack of success in this nation. None. That place should be torched down. Give me a call when that happens, I will catch a plane just to watch.

  • Sex Changes. This has come into the media recently due to a certain prominent pseudo-celeb announcing their intent to self-mutilate. I'm sorry people, but enduring a medical procedure to change someone into the other gender -- a gender that someone was never created to be -- is not "brave." It shouldn't be applauded or supported. It's actually quite sad. It's sad that a person can dislike their self so much that they would choose to self-mutilate. It's also offensive. It's offensive to think that because you endured a surgery and popped some hormone pills, that you're now entitled to have the title of "woman" or "man" bestowed upon you. Not only was it not earned. It was never intended. I am subtly reminded even in my fragile, with-child state that womanhood (or manhood) cannot be co-opted through medical interventions. However these individuals choose to live is quite simply, a lie. End of story
If you see me coming, watch out. I am wielding choice words and a warrior in my belly. For a few more months at least.

Posted in Life, Pregnancy | Permanent Link | Comments { 15 }
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Correcting the Internet
April 29, 2009

Someone sent me this cartoon a few months ago and it most perfectly describes the average evening in my home. One of the things that's been made blatantly apparent to me in my nearly three short years of marriage is how different generations view technology. While I'm not entirely fond of the labels sociologists put on generations, I think there is a lot of truth that can come from observing the era in which a person comes of age.

Technically, I am a member of Generation-Y (also known as the Millennial Generation). My husband Andre, on the other hand is from the bunch known as Generation X. On most days, this means nothing in our home. After all, we're only four years apart. When it comes to the Internet though, those four years feel like dog years some days.

Like most in his generation, Andre has embraced much of what the Internet has to offer. He does the whole social networking thing to a certain extent, but views it as a necessary evil. Though he uses Google and many of their products like Gmail, Gchat, etc., he has all these theories about being watched online and doesn't trust that Sillocon Valley behemoth as he can throw them. Having worked for Google, I'd say his concerns are incredibly valid. For Andre, the Internet is purely a means to an end. He makes money on it, runs businesses on it, gets his information and entertainment on it, and stays in touch with friends and family on it. The difference between he and I is the level of seriousness with which we embrace the Internet. For me, the Internet is a way of life. It is a very serious matter and not something to be toyed with.

I can remember learning on Mac computers as early as second or third grade. We'd be whisked away to the computer lab where we had to endure "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" and got to play Sim City as a treat. Yes, Sim City has been around forever. I started learning Microsoft Office in elementary school and by eighth grade we were gathering research information on the Internet and presenting our history projects via PowerPoint. I am on right on the edge of being in Generation Y, but I am truly a child of the technology revolution. I have no qualms about putting much of my personal life on the Internet or transacting on the Internet and most of my peers can be found online on all the spots I frequent. In short, I trust the Internet far more than Andre does. I also esteem it a bit higher, sometimes to fault.

Within our first year of marriage, it didn't take Andre long to realize he'd married a bit of a monster. Who was this blogging, podcasting, IMing, social networking, website managing woman he called his wife? One night he pointed out to me that he could tell when I was debating with someone on the Internet by the level of intensity in my typing. I laughed at first, but he was absolutely right. There are few things that infuriate me more than something I've read on the Internet.

Weblogs, message boards and other online communities provide the opportunity to converse with people from all walks of life, holding all types of worldviews. Nowadays most media outlets, including major news sites allow user feedback. Even social networking sites like Facebook incorporate many opportunities for you the user to tell people what you think. In short, the Internet is a bastion of personal opinion. Got an opinion? The Internet is waiting to hear it. Even better, someone is also there waiting to telling you you're wrong.

If you've surfed around enough, you've surely read some type of boneheaded commentary that warranted a response. Maybe you've even read it here! The difference between my husband and I is that when he reads something he disagrees with, he puts it low on his priority list. He thinks very little of the opinions of people on the world wide web. Me? I usually have to say something and whatever I have to say needs to be said with a great amount of urgency. The antidote to this type of behavior is quite simple: start a blog.

Posted in Blogging, Life, Marriage, Technology | Permanent Link | Comments { 1 }
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The Television: Friend and Foe
April 17, 2009

I have for some time had a love/hate relationship with the television. Growing up, it was a welcomed friend, delivering the warm and fuzzy classics such as "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," and the great "ode" to early American values known as "All in the Family." I was probably the only three-year-old who actually regularly tuned in to Archie Bunker's tirades with great anticipation and interest. Growing up, I don't remember being babysat by the television. I don't remember television being a central focus of my life. My parents were fairly strict about the television being off on school nights or until homework was finished. If I rushed through my times tables I likely would be granted permission to catch an hour or so of prime time sitcom television and that was that.

When I was a child, cable television didn't bleep out swear words because they weren't even allowed on the air. Most networks didn't even air shows with four letter words so no bleeping was necessary (save maybe Jerry Springer, which actually used to be a legitimate talk show believe it or not). Back then, even tertiary swear words--the stuff we hear today in most rated-PG movies--were bleeped out. I never, not for one second thought of television as an enemy. Television was the bearer of all things good--a friend in our home, bringing delightful goodness, humor, education, and even a bit of insight here and there. Perfect it was not, but I was none the wiser. As long as the television brought me closer to Bill Cosby, it was the best thing since sliced bread.

Summers were an entirely different story. During the summers of my childhood I could take in as much television as I wanted and it was a glorious season to behold. Daytime television was like a treasure trove of new shows I'd never seen before. I remember the summer I was first introduced to soap operas. I was eleven-years-old and spent that particular summer in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with my grandparents. When it came to television there are three shows that my grandfather never missed: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (airing on Christmas Eve only), any football games involving the Pittsburgh Steelers, and of course, Days of Our Lives. Never has a show had a more fitting title because indeed that is what you give when you indulge yourself in soap operas - DAYS of your life. I tuned in avidly every day, hoping to find some sort of redemption in the storyline. The writers had me on the edge of my seat for each and every show...waiting intently on a resolution that would never come. I quickly observed that any inconsistencies in the plot or sense of reality could all be covered up by one of the characters having amnesia--lots and lots of amnesia. Soap operas are insufferable.

It took me an entire summer to come to the revelation that the chief end of daytime television (soap operas in particular) is to ensure that you the viewer will tune in again tomorrow. Beyond that, there is no other goal. I wanted my money back. "Days of Our Lives" had ripped off my entire summer and I felt utterly betrayed. Three months' worth of watching still left me with the same questions I had on day one of my soap opera experience. There is a lesson there I wish I'd realized much sooner in life.

Continue reading "The Television: Friend and Foe">>>

Posted in Life, Media, Television | Permanent Link | Comments { 5 }
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New Beginnings
April 16, 2009

Right. Where to start? When you haven't been blogging for about a year and a half, it's hard to know where to begin. I'll start by saying my how I've missed this place! There isn't a whole lot about my life that's been as consistently gratifying as writing every day (or so). Though it was abundantly clear to me that I was burned out and needed a break. When I first began this website I was around 22 years old. I am now 27. It's amazing what five years can do to a person. I look back on much of what I've written here and I don't regret it one bit. Okay maybe a little. There are a few things I read now and cringe due to sentence structure or a mindset I held that I've now changed. But more often than not, I am forever indebted to whoever created the blog because I am fairly certain that there is no way I ever would have amassed 696 essays without such a phenomenon.

When I first began blogging it was a fairly new concept. Most of my friends, family and associates weren't well versed in what a blog was. Mass media was a bit threatened by the notion and was reporting on blogging with the same lack of understanding they're currently displaying in stories about Twitter. I kind of credit myself with launching my blog before blogs became the hotness du jour. Since I've watched the concept flourish and my daily online pit stops consist of visiting blogs more often than CNN or Reuters or even the New York Times.

I've tried for some time to pinpoint the moment when blogging wasn't as fun for me. I love writing and I love expressing myself so I couldn't comprehend why I'd burned out. Then one day it hit me. For whatever reason, this blog often found its way to politics. Understandably so seeing as how one of my chief passions in life is the discussion of worldview and how it relates to the political realm. That said, I realized that I am a person whose insights, discussions and revelations flow from my every day life. Simply put, I wasn't writing about my life. If anything I was trying to be as discrete as possible thanks to one too many loon bats emailing me with off the wall missives. You know who you are. So as my life began to enhance (with love, marriage, and some more fun stuff I'll share in the future), I found it more difficult to "be my whole self" in this space I'd created.

Continue reading "New Beginnings">>>

Posted in Blogging, Life | Permanent Link | Comments { 10 }
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Child Star
June 5, 2007

This past weekend we flew to Virginia for a graduation. At my parent's house, we're all sitting around the family room and the following discussion takes place. Another to file under disappointingly humorous conversations with my beloved mother:

Mom: Hey Ambra, remember that Cap'n Crunch Commercial you filmed?

Me: Totally. Would you believe I called Quaker Oats a few years ago to try to track down the tape?

Mom: And?

Me: They were very helpful. I described to the them the commercial, the production company, the year, and the cast: a little black girl and a white boy. They quickly sent me a tape. I popped it in and unfortunately it was ANOTHER little black girl and a white boy. Who knew Quaker Oats had such diversity.

Mom: Did you tell them it was for the Christmas Crunch cereal commercial in particular?

Me: Yes, but maybe I got the year wrong. Oh well. One day when I'm famous and on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno", they will track it down for me and play it as one of my "embarrassing clips."

Mom: Did you know you made like $8,000 from shooting that commercial?


Me: Um, all I ever got was a $1,500 check.

Mom: Yeah that was union pay for the actual day of the shoot. Your residual income was like $8,000 for the holiday months.


Me: What the heck? I never saw or knew about that money.

Mom: I know. We spent it on your private school tuition.

Me: Without my permission? What if I didn't want to spend it on that? I mean, I was in 8th grade; I wasn't exactly a little kid.

Mom: Private school was expensive. The money was invested well.

Me: Man, I feel like Gary Coleman up in here.


Me: Gary Coleman, Emmanuel Lewis, Macaulay Culkin, and Ambra Nykol on the next E! True Hollywood Story

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By reader request, my partner in crime
March 21, 2006

on 09.01.06, he becomes mine

Photo Credit: Hun Kim, GH Kim Photography

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New Additions!
December 30, 2005

Right so about that big announcement. I'd like to introduce you to the newest addition to the Nykola.com family, Sophie, my new miniature schnauzer puppy. She was a Christmas Eve gift given to me by my new fiance just before he got down on one knee. It happened in front of my entire family which was the best.

And just for the record, sporadic blogging has had absolutely nothing to do with the man in my life. In fact, if he had his way, I'd be blogging every day. We solicit your prayers during this very exciting time. Now if only we can keep the guest list under 500.

Flickr photos

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Merry Belated CHRISTmas
December 26, 2005

I pray everyone had a restful and wonderful Christmas. Today begins the first day of Kwanzaa, the fake African holiday that hardly any black people celebrate. More on that later today. I'm going to slowly ease myself back into this after what has been a decidedly eventful Winter. I have a big annoucement to make (nope it's not about the book).

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Back and Still Black
November 15, 2005

Clear your caches folks, I'm back. The general theme of my inbox the last couple of weeks goes something like this [as excerpted from an actual email]:

From: Joe Reader
Subject: I'm sure you're busy, but this is getting ridiculous

Dear Ambra,

It looks like whatever new endeavors you've been pursuing during your sabbatical from nykola.com have become all-consuming. If so, I wonder if you might post something on the website to let your faithful readers know that you really are not dead yet. Maybe even give a hint of what's gobbling up your time?

Just a thought. Seems a shame to waste all the goodwill you built up through nykola.com by just neglecting it. It's that whole stewardship thang.

Concerned reader, friend, retired pastor, lawyer, mom in (insert Southern state), etc.

So at first the emails on my whereabouts were just genuine concern and very flattering pleas that I come back. Now I'm getting scolded. Point taken, readers. Point taken.

Life has been immensely busy and forced me to use my palm pilot and every other type of electronic calendaring device I can find including excessive amounts of post-it notes (why oh why didn't *I* invent the post-it note?). I've been talking to publishers and signing on to new projects, and biting off more than I can chew and all that stuff I'm supposed to be doing as a foolish college drop-out. For now that's all I'll say. There's lots of fun on the horizon, however!

But I'm back and hopefully in full-effect.

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Overheard at the Beauty Salon
October 19, 2005

It's amazing how a relaxing experience can be completely ruined by one ignorant conversation:

Man: Yeah so I got a call today from my youngest son telling me that John, my oldest son had two girls over to play video games.

Stylist: Well as long as they're just playing video games, that's okay.

Man: Yeah but you know, he's getting towards that age.

Stylist: How old is John again?

Man: He's 17. He's a senior in high school.

Stylist: Well, just give him some condoms, say a prayer, and send him out the door.

Man: That's about all I can do.

Planned Parenthood public school sex education rears its ugly head.

I'm back this weekend, ya'll. Life's kicking my butt right about now (in a very very good way).

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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City

I Have a Talk Show