This week, Maat Free focuses on the nows, asking one fascinating Richmonder to give five answers to five questions. That’s 25 things total! A bargain!
This week on the #untoldrva 5 Things, I need a damn break. A palate cleanser for the mind, so to speak. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, having just wrapped up a presentation for COMMUNIVERSITY at the Neighbor’s Conference hosted by Storefront For Community Design, which was awesome.
Though it might not seem like much of a challenge from the outside looking in, it’s actually harder than you’d think to write a bi-weekly historical timeline. The brightest ideas seem to arrive at the 11th hour, and then it’s like a mad dash to come up with a compelling case for fleshing out the topic with only a day or two to make it happen.
Last night, as the deadline loomed within hours, I frittered away even more time stargazing with my best friends on the roof of Miller Lofts. The night air in Manchester feels more galactic and cosmically charged than anywhere else in the River City and none of us ever want to be inside when the sky is beckoning us for our undivided attention. Sitting there knowing all that needed to be done in a short span of time, I looked up at the stars and pleaded for a topic to just zzzzoop into my brain.
A lot of laughing and rhyming and white sangria swizzling ensued but a clearcut idea failed to emerge. Standing next to me was this random girl who said she met me four years ago at the Nile. She told me that we were there for Afro Beta and that I had given her some delicious chocolates from my purse. I did? So random.
This girl, wow. She had the most voluminous shock of hair, kind of like a mane. She was wearing a matte gold sequinned peplum bustier that flared out at the waist. When our mutual friend Tye Jones (the host) began to shake one of his delicious concoctions in the infamous cocktail shaker, it was as if someone hit her switch and she began to shimmy her hips like a dashboard hula doll. It was nuts. She’d stop on a dime when he took a break to rest his wrist. Then he’d start up again, and she’d just go in. All the way in. So funny because Tye Jones wasn’t seeing any of this but I was. The girl was shaking on involuntary impulse like Pavlov’s dog. It was hilarious. And so very random.
Therefore, to honor the gift of bright ideas that come from the most random RVA experiences, I present to you The #untoldrva 5 Things: Random Edition.
I asked this girl (well, she’s 31 but very youthful), whose name turns out to be Ms. Sonia Corporan, to please indulge me with five random answers to five random questions for my 5 Things column today. She was happy to oblige. Her responses are fascinating, and I think you’ll agree. But first, here are five random things about Sonia that will help you understand her better before we begin:
1. Sonia has one of the most fabulous accents I’ve ever heard.
She says it comes from moving to Richmond at age seven with a Puerto Rican mother and Dominican father. She could not speak English when she got here–at all. There were no ESL classes at her school, so she had to teach herself. Her dialect is Afro-Latino Richmond. Can you imagine? I know. So random.
2. Sonia is looking for a new employment home doing what she does best: serving Richmond as a Community Outreach Counselor.
She is bilingual and wants to get back in there on the front lines of the local people-helping sector.
3. Sonia can dance her ass off.
The whole time she’s dancing, she’s smiling, so it’s fun to see her having so much fun. She’s humble with it, but she’s perfected her wiggle to a T.
4. Sonia is a Hip Hop head.
She knows a song for every situation. My friend BarCodez introduced her to me as a girl after my own heart. There isn’t a True School Golden Age Hip Hop song lyric we can’t pinpoint to the album, artist, and era.
5. Sonia is the personification of what our RVA Neighbors Conference sought to reveal.
These days, everyone’s down to ditch the same old homogenized narratives. We’ve become a city of odds and ends. We hold space for individuality. The goal is to build inclusive communities where we can be different together.
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5 Random Questions and 5 Random Answers
So here are the things I asked Sonia, as one of RVA’s untold people, about her Richmond.
5 Deliciously Random Things to Have For Lunch
- The vegetable samosas from Lemon Restaurant w/tamarind chutney and green chile paste
- Papa Ningos mashed plantain mafungo with their delectable garlic gravy
- Chicken panang curry from Mom’s Siam, blending all four of her favourite flavors of coconut, curry, peanut, and basil leaf
- Rosewater Mousse from Lemon Restaurant; whipped, creamy and light
- Thai Tea from Mom’s Siam with its red-orange creamcicle tint and mildly bitter coffee flavor
5 Random Shows in Richmond That You Wished You Would Have Gone To
- The Old School Hip Hop tour in 2008 at Brown’s Island
- The Universoul Circus
- A Tribe Called Quest show in the 90s
- The Roots Jamestown Protest Show at the Sugar Pad on the James River
- The Maxwell show in the early 2000s
5 Random Items From Your Closet That Together Make Up a Gorgeous 100% Thrifted Outfit
- A long sleeved one-shoulder turquoise blue blouse from Goodwill on Horsepen and Broad
- A dressy pair of khaki shorts from Goodwill on Broad and Hungary Springs
- Some earthy, tribal wooden heeled sandals with rust and dark brown straps
- A rust colored belt from Family Thrift on Midlothian
- A dark brown leather Via Spiga hobo bag from a Northside yardsale
5 Random Places to Chill With Your Boo
- Chimborazo Park in the Spring, to have conversation, light incense, bring a blanket, and read Mayda del Valle poetry while enjoying chicken salad sandwiches and fresh squeezed limeade a little after five
- Pony Pasture, to sit on rocks and eat pink Hello Kitty Pocky Sticks and paint with water colors while playing a two person game of oldies-but-goodies Name That Tune.
- Salsa dancing at Havana’s in Shockoe on Thursday nights, wearing a peplum dress and some peep toe pumps with hair up off of the neck. Drink mango and pineapple mojitos. Request “No Le Tegue a La Negra,” which is about an enslaved people’s rebellion in Colombia by Joe Arroyo. That song is from the 80s and tells a great story. The music and the melody are a lot of fun to dance to.
- Maymont in the Japanese Garden, reading Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel from the Kindle and also The Dewbreaker by Edwidge Danticat. Snacking on sorullos corn sticks. Drinking 2007 Riesling from the blue bottle. Enjoying the way the books tell stories that interweave with their own identity and begin with recipes of delicious, mouthwatering food.
- The Hill Café for a shared brunch of Huevos Rancheros with crumbly white Mexican cheese and fresh fruit on the side. Drinking martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives. Sit facing the door at the booth towards the left by the window because of the lighting and people watching.
5 Random Projects That Deserve A Donation of $1000
- Safe Harbor, so they can host a weekend of exploring new creative options for children who have experienced family violence, giving them a range of outlets through which they can self-heal and self-express.
- Grayhaven, to build up a leave in a hurry fund for trafficked women to immediately escape harmful situations and get out of dodge without having to worry where they’d get the money to vanish.
- Farmer’s Market by Broad Rock Library which had an incentive program that matched dollar for dollar in credit for anyone who wished to buy their local produce with their food stamp card. The program fizzled out but it would be good to bring it back because she used to walk there with the families in her caseload.
- COMMUNIVERSITY to buy a toolsharing camera for self-starting entrepreneurs to learn how to capture content for their own websites and fortify their social media presence, raising the bar for what it looks like to have your own business represented in our local startup sector.
- Feast RVA, to add an extra bump to support a grantee that needs some cash to cover their household bills while they work on fleshing out their winning idea.
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Wanna hear the brand new exclusive, next-level dialogue between me and the special Random Edition guest? Sure you do, you’ll love it! Tune in to WRIR 97.3 at 9:00 AM on Friday, July 3rd for “The #untoldrva Five Things” radio show. It’s a full hour of talk, music and random quickfire questions for our guest, and as always, it’ll be a whole lot of fun.
Don’t forget to keep up with #untoldrva on Facebook and stay tuned for what’s happening with our little side project COMMUNIVERSITY as we make a way for the brightest, brokest folks in town who deserve to be in the room.
Oh yeah, and just in case you weren’t before, YOU ARE NOW ROCKING WITH THE BEST.
Peace, RVA. Be excellent.