West Side Market

I started this piece at the end of my senior year of high school. That would be mid 2008. I just finished four years later, exactly 100 years after the Cleveland West Side Market was dedicated. I’d like to think of my procrastination as commemoration.

“West Side Market” 2008-2012
Briana Johnson-Sims
Colored pencil on paper
14 x 10.5 in


I’ve got a lot of words
Empty collections of characters that lack the comprehension to serve my current interest
So from time to time I abandon you
Until I can regain appreciation for what you do
You try
And that is something of value
But words aren’t art
They’re not wind
They’re not a pulse
They can’t say a million things without saying anything at all
At best they’re mediocre mimes for true feeling
Therein lies my frustration as well as the validation
Uncertain hearts still yearn for you because you’re the freshest thing next to air
The best of friends when the world is silent
Even the most powerful expression of God second only to His presence.

They Never Did It

It kills me when people have so much advice to offer and so little experience. What I mean is, I dislike when people (particularly parents) want you to learn from their mistakes, but have no way of suggesting the proper means of going about a situation.

And as for the critics, tell me I don’t get it. Everybody can tell you how to do it, they never did it. 

I respect the fact that parents want you to learn from their mistakes. Nobody wants someone they care about to learn the hard way after witnessing firsthand how hard it can be.


I have a hard time respecting the whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing. Every time someone says “go to graduate school” or “give that guy a chance” or any other suggestion that they have no personal experience with I get upset.

Because it’s unfair.

These people expect me to open myself to experiences that they never did. Paths that they imagine would have showed them greener pastures, but have no real insight to.

They are so fearful of me repeating their mistakes that they want me to adopt a path that I may regret, that simply is not my own, or that isn’t mine to find at this time.

These people can’t say “oh, this choice I made was great” or “it gave me ‘x’ opportunity”. They can just say, “I wish I had made that choice because I think it would have changed my life.”

But they don’t even know if it was good for them let alone for me.

No one but God can say what is ordained for my life, let alone a hypocrite. Be the change you want to see in the world, don’t tell me to do it.

I guess that what bothers me the most. Don’t live vicariously through me. Let me make my own way. And relent graciously.

The Unseen

When one photographer finds another and the two of you decide to enter the dead zones in Cleveland you encounter real beauty. My brother and I were two such beings. A trip across the west side, the entire Channel Orange album and two boxes of pizza later, we hadn’t seen it all, but we had seen wonders. Dilapidated buildings make for the best scenery while unwelcoming destinations make for the best adventures. Check out a few of them.

Oh, Where the Cleveland Rapid Will Take You

I miss the summertime. The warm weather, the carefree afternoons, and trips on the rapid to downtown Cleveland for the heck of it. Cleveland isn’t bustling like New York, but it’s still got a lot of style. Me and Stephanie (pictured below) walked blocks across Downtown Cleveland just taking it all in. And it wasn’t even the first time we’ve gone!


How To Deal With the Ex-Soulmate

If you’re looking for advice on dealing with that one person you once thought you were gonna spend your life with, sorry! I don’t have all the answers. All I got is some real ness.

This evening I was watching Joe Budden chase after his ex girl Tahiry on Love & Hip-Hop. And it resonated with me a bit. As much as I like to watch trash shows to ridicule peoples’ behavior, I felt sorry for dude. He’s got a girl that he flaunts but he’s still yearning for a piece of what he once had.

Confession time: that’s me.

Tahiry on the other hand mentions that half of her wants to have nothing to do with him, while the other half can’t let him out of her life.

Somehow, that’s me too.

My longest, and my last relationship got real. Feelings were real and I started imagining super long term situations. My ex was my best friend too.

When I got too frustrated with him post-relationship, I cut him off completely. But even then I couldn’t really escape him.

I struggle to be friends with him because…well, I can’t help it. Frustration has got me wondering if it’s worth it, though.

I wanna cut him off again, but I honestly don’t know if I can…

When is enough, enough? When do you stop giving second chances? When do you accept the forces that drove you apart from them initially? Or is the ex-soulmate a permanent problem?