Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Its about 11 pm and I am laying in a hammock on my balcony that has a (slight) view of the ocean. Actually I may go inside cause I think the mosquitoes are out. Unfortunately, I don't get to spend too much time out here during the day cause of the hot as Hades sun...this is my first Brazilian spring/summer and it is kicking my butt!
But I am enjoying the beach and the hot weather, especially considering I could be experiencing snow and 18 degree temps like my folks in Detroit are. I spent part of the day at the beach watching a swim competition and reading about writing. I had printed out a copy of this series of articles about developing a successful writing practice. I know I tend to wait until I have large amounts of time to sit down and try to write (this blog, in my journal, my creative stuff, and my academic work). Of course, I rarely have large amounts of time. So you can imagine how often I write. So now I have to learn to take smaller amounts of time, daily or almost daily, to write. I think I will like to do academic work in the morning and creative stuff in the evening. I downloaded a writing graph from the author's website (she has a book too). I will officially start this Monday.
I also reacquainted myself with three academic websites: ; http://www.phinished.org/ ; http://www.insidehighered.com/ and www.chronicle.com . I need to utilize the resources available there as I complete this work.
I am reading the book Writing Down the Bones, which takes a Zen approach to writing. I find it very inspiring on a variety of levels. Perhaps I will expound upon that in a later post. There is also a book by the African American writer, Charles Johnson, called Turning the Wheel that I am considering buying. He addresses the intersection of writing, race, and Buddhism. I saw a quote recently that talked about creative people being inspired by other creative people. I can see that working in my life now. The next step is to be productive...
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
In Brazil you have to put down a 2500 reis deposit (about 1400 USD) when you go to the emergency (at least at the hospital I went to). So after I paid the money and filled out the paperwork, I got to sit for hours while I waited and then had chest xrays, blood tests, and an oxygen treatment. They thought I had denge fever, then pneumonia, but I was eventually diagnosed as having a "lung infection". I am still not convinced that it was not the flu or H1N1. I got antibiotics and was sent home.
Unfortunately, the antibiotics did little. I kept a 103 degree temperature for about a week and really was not 100% I was gonna make it (I am dramatic but it was really bad, man). I emailed my mentor back in the States and gave him instructions to facilitate things for me and my family in the event that I were to become incapacitated. I didn't tell my parents cause I did not want them to worry.
Finally, it was time to go. I really only made it through cause of the kindness of my house guest and some local friends who took care of me and my son. I never felt so helpless before....damn, just thinking about it makes me want to cry. I made it through though, praise God! So, anyway, F. and I arrive home and my parents could see how sick I was ( I had lost my voice for a few days while in Brazil and was still very hoarse plus I coughed so hard it sounded like I was hacking up a lung). Shortly after arriving in the states I went to the MSU clinic (free for students, so I drove the 1.5 hours to go to the doctor...well, my mom drove, but still). The funny thing is, the night before we went to MSU, my throat starting hurting really bad and I had white spots on my tonsils. I thought strep throat (whose horror I had experienced before). My cousin insisted that I gargle with peroxide and the next day the pain was gone but the spots were still there. The doctor diagnosed me with having bronchitis and tonsillitis and gave me another, different course of antibiotics. I was better within a week or so.
So that was the end of my summer in Brazil (Brazilian winter). I will share later some of the really cool things that I experienced during my fall in Detroit. Now I am enjoying winter back in Brazil (Brazilian summer). Reflecting on this post, I think I better be about the business of making sure my contingency plans are in place in case I take ill again (or God forbid, my son does)...
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Mom: So you are going to be staying with us for 3 months....whoah...how are we gonna manage?
Me: Well, we will have to work it out....but a couple of things. I don't need my coffeemaker, but I do need the microwave.
Mom: I will have to re-arrange the kitchen for it, but I guess it'll be okay.
Me: And also, I must use the shower head. I know you all are afraid of mildew and prefer us to only take baths, but there is no way I can do my hair without the shower. The shower and the microwave, I need compromise on those.
Mom: Well, just shower with the window open and we'll see....your dad doesn't like folks taking showers cause the paint starts peeling, but I guess it will work out.
Me: Fine. So how's grandma?
Mom: She's okay, but she refuses to get a new stove and her oven doesn't work. So I have to fry up all her chicken and fish instead of baking it.
Me: Why don't you just bake it at home and then take it to her house? Its healthier.
Mom: And cook meat in my house!! Oh no!!
Me: Umm, mom...what do you think F. and I are going to do?
Mom: I thought you were going to stop eating meat again.
Me: Well, I plan on it, but F. isn't a vegetarian, and I am not feeding him frozen chicken dinners for three months.
Mom: Well, I hate handling raw meat, but I will have to cook the meat cause you don't know how to handle it without contaminating my kitchen.
Me: Mom, I am a 35 year old woman with a teenage son (not true...I'm 33 and he is 11, but this was my "I'm a grown azz woman" rant) and this is what I have been doing for 15 years now, cooking my own food. I cook healthy meals for my family. I intend to continue cooking for my family.
Mom: Well, we will have to see.
Me: What do you expect us to do?
Mom: Well I guess I will have to go up behind you and re sanitize my kitchen after you are done contaminating it.
Me: Well, if that's what you need to do...
Me: *bratty only child smile
That went well, I think......
Saturday, August 1, 2009
20 years ago: 1989: age 13-14
I had just discovered the difference between wannabees and jiggaboos (via Spike Lee's School Daze). Bratty self-hating, I mean, poor, misguided classmates labeled themselves the former and me the latter. I took ownership of my giggaboo-ness and relished in the thought of going to my highly selective college preparatory high school (Yay Renaissance!) and leaving my classmates behind. To be young, gifted, and black!!!
15 years ago: 1994: age 18-19
Sophmore year in college. I discovered Iyanlya Vanzant, Ifa, and natural hair. Cut my apl (arm pit length) straight, relaxed hair off and determined that my beauty went beyond my hair. had a disasterous and (mainly emotionally) abusive relationship that resulted in both the worst semester of my undergraduate academic career and (the next semester) one of the best (dad said to shape up or come home). So I dumped the "zero" and hit the books.
10 years ago: 1999: age 23-24
Finished my post-BA teaching internship. A single mom engaged to my high school sweetheart (not my son's father). Trying to fit in the upwardly mobile buppie box, but the revolutionary rebel in me was itching to get out. Ended up breaking up with my fiancee and joining the Shrines of the Black Madonna.
5 years ago: 2004: age 28-29
Master's degree in Library and Information Science under my belt, living on my own terms with my son, working as a school librarian, a job I loved in a place I loved with (some) people that I couldn't stand. Making moves to get into a doctoral program....somewhere. A couple of disasterous relationships...lessons learned....
3 years ago: 2006: age 30-31
In my PhD program, learning that finding a community to connect with can be hard. Feeling happy with my academic life but dissatisfied with my social and personal life.
1 year ago: 2008 age 32-33
Spinning too many plates-field instructor, course instructor, research assistant, while writing a dissertation proposal, fellowship proposals, prepping for part two of my comprhensive exams and battling racist teachers and administrators hell bent on destroying my young black boy. Just reflecting on all of that makes me sick to my stomach... *humming "How I Got Ovah"...notice, no social or personal life mentioned.
Attended a workshop at the local university in Salvador da Bahia. Got a potentially (quality of) life altering proposition, attended the unofficial opening day of a friend's resturant.
Welcomed a houseguest into my home for a few weeks. Worked on a social network site for an international organization. Washed some linens. Planning on going to Pelhourinho. Later going to the official opening day of a friend's restaurant. Calling parents (before they sendEmbassay after me). Making a pro-con list for the aforementioned proposition.
Going to the beach early. Going grocery shopping. Calling grandma. Practicing Portuguese. Planning my week (including Friday, F's B-day).
In the next 5 years
I will: Finish my degree. Get a university job or another job that is fufilling. Return to the D for some period of time and helping out. Dating, falling in love, getting married and having another child (a girl has to keep hope alive, right?). Helping my son navigate through middle school, high school, and the college selection process (yikes). Traveling more, but finding a place to put down roots.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Anyway, here are some photos from our recent visit to Rio..... we did not do as much touristy stuff because I was conferencing, but I plan on returning for the New Year's season so I can ring in 2010 on the beach!!!
On the road to the urban rain forest in the middle of Rio
View of the city
View of O Cristo
F. smelling the lilies (my favorite flower)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
We also spend a lot of time in restaurants....one of my favorite meals is moqueca de camarao with vatapa (shrimp stew with a manioc paste dish)...
I am enjoying getting re-acquainted with my favorite snack food....
Amendoims Japones (Japanese style peanuts...do they eat these in Japan?)
We even made it out to Pelourinho on Saturday and the Cidade Baixa (Lower City) today. We were too busy trying to not step in urine to take pics in Cidade Baixa (they need some porto potties in this area for real), but here we are standing in the area that Olodum performs in twice a week....a nearby cafe serves iced cappuccinos and F. just had to have one....
We ran into the owner of Sankofa African Bar (I met him last year) and he told us that they now serve African cuisine for lunch and dinner...there is also a culinary school that serves Bahian food in the neighborhood, so we will definitely be back...
F. and I are both taking language classes as well. His pronunciation is spot-on, according to the teacher, and I am challenging myself by trying to read "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" and "City of God" in the original Portuguese....Freire's "Pedagogia do Oprimido" is easier than Lins' "Cidade de Deus"....I honestly only half understand the latter, but it feels cool to be reading a novel in a language besides English, lol!!! Its storming now, and my son claims he is starving, so I gotta make some moves....I will try to do something adventurous while in Rio...stay tuned!!!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Actually this morning is the second time that I've seen a half rainbow out over the ocean. It just reminds me of how blessed I am to be able to have such a view outside my window. Coming from urban and suburban Michigan, ocean views are, well, non-existent, and at my family's pay grade, lake and river views are something you get while vacationing. So it is indeed a privilege to stay in a place that overlooks the ocean. Know that I am settling in I am finally beginning to sit back and enjoy my surroundings....my locale.
Anyway, listening to the band, which had a woman playing keyboard, btw, took me back. They sung in English and Portuguese, and the crowd was funky. Lots of American college students (cool ones, not rowdy, drunk ones) European tourists, Brazilian kids, other locals, and a number of families with kids (F. didn't stand out too much, even though his style of dress marks us as American...he will not let go of the crisp white gym shoes and the baggy clothes). We eventually left because F. needed a bathroom break (those port-a-potties are NOT the stuff) and then it started raining. It was funny watching dozens of partiers cram under vendor umbrellas and shop canopies. Everyone was so calm. I try to imagine this scene in the U.S....like at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit during a festival. Not sure how it would play out. Oh well...it was cool here. I look forward to a casual Saturday in the city. Going to do more transcribing, hit the mall for a few things, then maybe the beach....peace...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
One of my umbrellas was another. It is so funny that you can see umbrella carcasses left abandoned on the streets. I, being the conscientious steward of the earth that I am (or at least try to be) traded mine in at a local store for a new one.
F. and I braved the rains for a number of days, then became impatient when we had to wait Wed., Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the folks to come to install Internet (evidently in Brazil, saying you will arrive at 11, then 1, then 5 really means that you will not come at all…and you thought CPT was bad…)Then on Saturday night I started feeling a little, unwell….by Sunday morning I was full fledged sick…either Traveler's Stomach or some type of food poisoning, I'm not sure which. I thought I would self medicate with some ginger root tea and watermelon,
but that did not work out to well. I will spare you the details, but it was not pretty. I think the culprit was some horrific pizza that I bought at the Bompreco (a chain owned by Walmart). From now on, I am going to be even more selective about what I buy and where I buy it from. I will bite the bullet and shop at Pereni, a more upscale store (think Whole Food's, Papa Joe's, or Trader Joe's). I also might start eating fish and seafood when I go out cause I am tired of eating cheese pastries (the only non-meat dish I can find besides beans and rice). F. was such a dear the whole time, helping me out the best he could, not complaining when all I could do was make some beans and rice for dinner. He even was a surrogate mom, insisting that I eat something even though I did not feel like it. I forced myself to eat five spoonfuls of food for his benefit…didn't stay down long though….TMI…I know.
Monday and today were just perfect. There is nothing like being on your sickbed that makes you appreciate being well. I was able to keep food down which allowed me to regain my strength. The sun was shining brilliantly and folks were flocking to the beach. F. and I took a stroll along the beach and then ate lunch at a restaurant.
While we were there, Felipe, the rental agent, called me to say that the Internet folk were at my building waiting for me. I told him I would come back and he responded "okay, in an hour?". I thought that was odd since I had told him I was maybe 15 minutes away. But I decided to take my time and we returned home about 30 minutes later and….no Internet guys. So I don't know if it is the Brazilian way (jethino) to say one thing that is….an exaggeration (I won't say lie) of the truth. A Brazilian guy I met recently said as much, but would like to think that when people are handling business they handle business. Perhaps I as
k for too much. But after being home for 15 minutes or so Felipe calls to say that the guys are downstairs and they shortly come up to begin installation. They got things together and even offered to hook up satellite tv. We will see if that happens....
We did see a little taste of home....
Evidently, the name of the local pest control company is "Detroit". Hmph.
Hopefully, we can make it to the beach tomorrow. We have spent a little time there...
I have an aversion to sand...not a good thing, since my son loves the beach and we are 4-8 minutes away from the beach, depending on the elevator.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I am only here for a few days before I head off to Brazil, but I feel like I have a bit of culture shock…in more ways than one. I packed up my apartment, put everything into storage….a 10 x 25 place that is pretty full (even with my pruning I still have a lot of ish… and turned in the keys. So now I have been driving around Detroit….south-eastern Michigan more specifically…as I spent Friday and Saturday in Ferndale, Madison Heights, Royal Oak, and other suburban cities. I want to reacclimate myself to this place that I will call home for the next year…but I feel so alien. Part of it is cause the area has changed a lot in four years. Not that I have not been back home on occasion, but visiting for 2-3 days once a month does not give you the flavor of an area. The "for sale" and "for rent" signs are rampant in the burbs, as are the empty storefronts. Even in tony places like Birmingham you see empty homes….empty strip malls in Royal Oak.
One interesting and cool thing that I noticed was in Oakland Mall. Growing up, Oakland Mall was one of "those" suburban malls where black folk weren't looked at too kindly. Over the years it got more comfortable to be there, and it was better than Northland which had been overrun by teenagers and gaudy, ghetto-fab shops (which I was all into during my younger years). I went to Oakland on Saturday to get my eyebrows arched and a pedicure (special treats for me with my doctoral student time and financial restrictions). There were Middle Eastern people (possibly Chaldean), Muslims, Indians, black folk, white folk, Latinos, Asians…j
ust an extremely diverse crowd. Now, for the most part, people were with their "own kind" but I did notice a black teenage girl handing with her ???Latino??? or Middle Eastern friend (she may have been bi-racial)….they looked like they were into the skater scene…tres cool! I saw two interracial couples….both black men, one with a white woman and one with a Asian woman. A few groups of teenagers were multiracial…and this one white g
uy with locks and some interesting get-up was walking around the mall barefoot….I wish I could of gotten a picture…evidently it is not against the rules to walk around barefoot cause he passed the security guard and the guard (a black man) did not even blink an eye…yes I was doing a lot of people watching at the mall today…I find malls to be excellent places to just sit and observe…
I felt a bit of role reversal on Saturday as well…many of my friends and family know that I am extremely pro-nappy, and have been since 1994. Well, on Friday I went to a salon and came out looking like this…
(sorry...pic later...just imagine me with straight hair...I look like a mix between Gabrielle Union and Queen Latifah)
***Here are the pics...see the resemblance....okay, maybe not***
Many folks who have only gotten to know me in the past few years may be shocked, but the reality is, I am not anti-straight hair…not 100%, and I have been known to straighten on occasion. I actually got into a bit of a heated discussion with my hairdresser about the merits of and problems with water and heat when it comes to black hair. I decided to slow my row since I WAS paying her to straighten my hair, so I couldn't quite argue that pressing combs were the debbil….so, I had my hair straightened, mainly so I could wear a stretched braid-out and to let my hair gradually kink back up….I prefer my hair bigger and curly; flat and straight doesn't feel like "me".
So I go run errands on Saturday, and it was interesting how people related to me! The girl that did my eyebrows tried to engage me in a convo about the high price of hair weaves…I had to tell her that I had no idea what she was talking about. She later let me know that I had the type of hair women are paying for…like baby doll hair, she said…. I think I did say thank you in response to all of the complements she gave me, but I did feel a bit uneasy (I try, as a rule, to NOT say thank you to statements like, oh your hair is so long, curly, nice texture, etc….but WILL say thank you to statements like…your hair is pretty….the personal is so political when it comes to black hair)
As I left the mall I crossed paths with this sister with long, semi-manicured locks…I usually am able to catch a fellow nappies' eye, but she averted her glance….
Later I sat in a restaurant near two older black women. One was a natural (small fro) and another had this short curly thing going on (not sure if it was natural or natural-esque). I attempted to catch their eyes and smile, but they, too, did not look my way. Now, I usually smile at black folk, particularly black women (I smile at other folks too, but my black liberation days have conditioned me to smile at sistern and brethern). I really felt as though they were shunning me cause I was not "one of them". Now, of course, I have no idea what they were thinking or not thinking regarding me, but I know that hair gives people impressions of you. I am used to my hair saying certain things about me, whether or not they are true. I kind of like the image that people have of me…the earthy, intellectual, conscious. I don't care for people classifying me as militant or racially intolerant (most people in real life know that is SOOOO far from the truth). I like the black aesthetic and I like the culture that I come from and the global African diasporan culture. Wearing my hair straight has been a culture shock for me….first, I do like it…somewhat. Second, I feel really guilty for liking it. Third, I don't like the way I felt alienated from sistas simply because of my hair. Fourth, I wonder if women who wear their hair straight feel alienated when around natural sistas? Now I know the answer to that; many do, cause many of US (natural sistas) do have preconceived notions of women who straighten their hair. This hair thing is deep and I am sure it will be revisted later, since hair is a mini-obsession of mine. Its late though, and I need to get up early so I can go to the Detroit Flower Show!!! Will blog later...
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Well, maybe more like 10 or 11 years....this is my 10th Mother's Day as an actual mother! I can't believe it sometimes how fast time flies...I mean, while it doesn't seem like just yesterday that I was bringing F. home, it also doesn't seem like I should really be the mom of an 11 year old...in 6 or so years he will be off to college and I will be an empty nester (maybe). But in the interim, I have the most challenging years ahead....the teenage years! I am somewhat looking forward to it...I already enjoy the fact that I can now talk to him about social issues, religion, and life in general in a way that I couldn't years before (well, I did, but I am not sure he understood everything at 8.....not sure he understands it all now....or if I even do...). A little part of me is even considering a small run at a boarding school (didn't Barack go to boarding school for a bit?...maybe not, but still...). I want to give him some really unique experiences...the most unique (for a young African American urban male of a single mom) is the opportunity to live HERE for 3 months......
One Week Left
So right now I am packing things up for storage and packing our suitcases to leave. I have vowed that we will each get one suitcase for clothes, we will have one suitcase for household necessities, like my hair products, my skin care products, my yoga equipment....you know, necessities like that. One suitcase will be for my research stuff (since I am supposed to be doing work down there) and then backpacks and a carry on bag....as I am writing this I am thinking that maybe we will not need backpacks AND carry ons....if we pack right. So I feel that I am on target for getting us set by Wednesday when the movers come (I tried to solicit help from all the *ahem* men I know....to no avail....guess I should of played nice with the exes...so daddy dear offered to chip in for movers (I wonder if the fact that, at my old age, I am still a daddy's girl is one of the reasons why I'm still single). So my home looks like this now...
In the midst of it all, I still need to finish up grading and stuff for my class, write a couple of letters of recommendation, and file some paperwork, cause as of May 7th, I am.....
ABD!!!! (All But Dissertation)
I am only going to allow myself to celebrate that for about a week or so more, cause it is not a place to get stuck at, but, darn it, its been four years in the making! The process has been slow, but steady, with no major bumps in the road, so for that I am greatful. Now I have to really forge ahead and not get sidetracked in Brazil or once I return home to Detroit. It'll be different doing my work away from campus, but I am hoping that the change of scenery will do F. and I both some good. I intend to work really hard M-F and then have a social life on the weekends. I am not planning on running the streets all the time, but I just want some balance in my life, balance that has been missing these last four years. Again, university had been real good to me, but it is just time to go home and finish. The goal is one year from now!!!! In the meantime, I've got a lot to keep me busy...back to work.....
Friday, April 17, 2009
I have a feeling it just might come through. I am going to try to practice not-wanting, a Zen concept. I was actually practicing it until early this morning, when I started actively begging the universe to let me get in and to NOT make me an alternate cause I did not want to continue the uncertainty of the past few months. The universe is a funny place though. I know two things (well hopefully more than two).
1. I would not call it law of attraction, but I do believe in actualizing what you want by speaking it into existence. Maybe just positive thinking, but I do live my life trying to be as positive as possible...I will have to expand on that later, but it works.
2. Vehemently rejecting certain things is a surefire way to get that thing to happen. This is why I know in the back of my mind that I will end up with a child in college and another in diapers. I just know. This is also why I ended up an alternate.
Now of course I don't really know why this or any other situation turned out the way it did. I suppose my mix of beliefs leads me to think of karma and some Divine plan that is going to work out for the best. I have been very successful at turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones...my best works have been born out of turmoil and disappointment. After I was rejected from McNair initially cause of my gpa I worked so hard that I got the highest gpa of my undergrad career the next semester while taking 18 credits (12 is full time). The director of the program called me at home to tell me my grades and to invite me to join the program and the rest is history (thanks Tay!). I enrolled into the Master's program anyway after my initial rejection and was invited to join the cohort by the professors who saw what a promising student I was. They even retroactively paid for my courses that I had paid for out of pocket. And now I am still going to Brazil to do my work, and even if I am "only" there for three months I have already decided that one day I WILL be a Fulbrighter!
And so it is....
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Something is happening though. I keep losing and gaining the same five lbs. but I feel like I am finally beginning to love my body. I just decided to really focus on being nurturing to my body, which, while imperfect, is strong and healthy. I am doing a number of practices (more on that later)that are designed to keep me balanced and I just feel a sense of calmness, even in the midst of all the uncertainty and turbulence in my life. I am in a good place, and even if I wake up tomorrow depressed, I know that it will pass...
Enough for now....see you soon...
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Well of course all of this renewed reflection comes from me having a wonderful New Year's Eve / New Year's Day experience. I traveled from my home to "A squared", which is about an hour away. There was a Zen temple that was having an New Year's Eve service. I contemplated going and not going for a while, but finally decided to go. I was really fearful of going cause I did not know what to expect, but once I realized that the only thing holding me back was fear, I knew I had to go. One positive thing that I can say about myself is that I am brave. I feel no shame in acknowledging fear, but I push on anyway! That makes me feel good; to know that I am brave!
So I went and got to partake in a beautiful ceremony where we burned our defilements (listed our bad habits on a sheet of paper and ritualistically burned them), we lit our lights, we meditated, listened to music, sang, and chanted ( I was not totally comfortable with the chanting, but I am warming up to it). There are so many things that I could write about concerning this experience, from the engaging in spiritual practice with non-black people, to the similarity of this experience to some of my other favorite spiritual rituals, to the great people that I hung out with afterward. I will say that I appreciated the kindness of Joe Reilly, a young musician that I had heard of but never met before last night. His music nearly brought me to tears and his spirit was just so warm and inviting...plus he was the first man to lead a car caravan without losing half of the followers! That was major in my book! I plan on buying his music in the future just to support his work and to gain some...I don't know....something from it myself. It was just so great to meet other people, face to face, that are walking similar paths....I just need to do more to seek these folk out. Happy New Year!!!