Ciji is a nickname I’d given myself as a young poet. I am child number 5 out of eight. There were five girls and three boys in our cozy little first-floor apartment, underneath one of my sisters’ godmother’s duplex. I love writing my thoughts down on just about anything; once I learned how to rhyme, I was hooked. My spelling took me longer to master, but I was persistent. I remember as a child writing on the sold one-piece wooden desk and seat set, packed with new and old blobs of Mary Jane candy slices and Double Bubble chewing gum. Even though it was a written rule, against putting these items underneath the desk, it was like a red-light invitation as to where to put it before the teacher caught you chewing anything during class session.
As I grew older, my cousins and my family decided to give the girls boys’ names and vice versa. My name became Sam until I became an adult. How Sam was formed out of Carol I’ll never know, but I think it was much better than some of the other names my sisters were called. My knowledge of awareness (wisdom) begun as a small child. I would sit back and watch, although I think I had the loudest mouth in the whole house and a temper—oh, what a temper. My father used to say, “Girl, you were just born before your time!” after being punished for speaking out of line or not answering at all.