Friday, January 31, 2014

Sessions with Sue 6

Today we talked about being alone and developing new habits. I spend the vast majority of my time alone. Other than when I go to class/meetings, run errands, and do a few other weekly activities, I don't spend that much time around other people.  There are many reasons for this habitual isolation, and I'll only mention a few here. Part of it is that I prioritize the tasks at hand over everything else; schooldevoursmylife because Ihavesomanythingstodo. Part of it is that I'm intimidated by the pressure and uncertainty that comes with dealing with people. And part of it is that I can use my time the way I want to when I'm the only one I have to think about. So basically, I have a lot of excuses.

I tend to avoid situations where I have to interact with people (especially new people) for too long. And while this is safe and comfortable at a surface level, it is also incredibly restricting and, of course, lonely. In my head, in my room, in my solitude... I've created a high-security comfort zone, with room for only 1, that doubles as a prison from time to time. Sue and I have been having great conversations about what I need to try doing, but I haven't made enough of an effort to put those things into practice. So these are some of the points that came up in regard to that:
  • Your emotions override your logic sometimes.
  • It seems safe, but it actually hurts you to spend so much time alone and away from people.
  • You're building this idea of how the world is that's really unhealthy, and it's made you terrified of having to be alone for the rest of your life
  • You need practice getting to know people; every week you need to go out and do things that take you out of your own head and help you learn what it is to connect with people again.
  • Find reasons to get out of your room! It's not a waste of time!
  • As much time as you devote to your schoolwork, you need to spend as much time on "therapy work". You're determined to do well, but you also need to be determined to feel better.
  • Getting discouraged so easily keeps you from trying, and trying again. You need to build up that emotional muscle to be able to withstand and push through disappointment.
  • You have too much to offer to be keeping yourself away from the world like you do.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'm (unofficially) Certified!

So... someone I know took the JLPT for level N2 last month. This morning that someone found out that she passed. And that someone may or may not be ME! Thank you Jesus! I shall keep this test admission card for memories and good luck, haha.

I'm so excited! I've never earned a certification like this before (unless a high school diploma counts?). Can't wait for my certificate to come in the mail so it'll be official.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today was a Good Day

First, I submitted all my materials for all the study abroad scholarships I'm applying for. Then, I finally stopped to hug all three of the "FREE HUGS" people who stand in or around an academic building that I frequent. And then, unexpectedly, my French professor complimented me on my speaking abilities. She said my French is "excellent" and that my "mastery" of it had given her the impression that I might be Caribbean or something. (It's not uncommon to have heritage speakers enrolled in the French classes here.) So that was pretty cool.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lose to win?

"No one enjoys losing. But you have to learn how to lose and not let it be a big deal." -Ma

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Wander(w)ing

This afternoon I walked around the mall by myself. No reason. Just breaking up my Saturday routine.
And I found these. Guess I was feeling flighty.

Sessions with Sue 5

Yesterday we talked about my constant need to protect myself from everything and everyone. My childhood experiences with my dad left the impression on me that relationships are painful, and that you always have to protect yourself against people. As a result, everything I do now is about protecting myself so that I don't get hurt or humiliated.

I tend to see everyone as potential enemies first. I assume that they don't/won't like me and will hurt or disappoint me in the end, so they have to go through hoops, so to speak, to prove themselves trustworthy. Then maybe they can be considered to be my friend. But I even keep most of my friends at a distance, revealing as little about myself as possible, and not fully believing that they're sincere when they reach out or say nice things to me. I am always on guard, which is why my safe place is extremely small, comprising only my mom and the house that I grew up in. Below are some more thoughts that I jotted down from our conversation:
  • Part of growing up is learning to see your parents as human beings. Ma is not all good, Dad is not all bad.
  • Believe it or not, Dad has good things in him too. Maybe learning what they are will help you to recognize those same good things in you.
  • You've defined yourself very narrowly, which leads you to have a deficit mentality.
  • You are stronger than you know and are much more than how you look (or don't look). 
  • It's good for you to muscle through anxiety and get to the other side, because that teaches you that it won't kill you.
  • Need to start accumulating experiences that will enable you to believe that you'll survive even if you get hurt or are embarrassed.
  • Maybe making yourself seen and heard will inspire others.
  • Consider that you might put yourself out there (do something new, take a risk, be in the spotlight in front of others, etc.) and things might actually turn out okay. Don't be so surprised and confused when good things happen.

I'm the Man (and) I'm Happy!

Last week while I was sulking my way back to campus, these two songs came on the radio in succession. They didn't make me feel any better about having to go back to school, but they moved me very deeply and reminded me that things turn out alright in the end. Yay for people being happy and confident. And yay for intelligent, talented black men being heard and sharing their light with the world.  Thank you, Pharrell and Aloe Blacc.

 

TLC with the Pups

Sly the Pitt Bull, who likes to give chocolate kisses
I walk dogs. That's primarily what I go to the shelter to do. But it was beyond frigid yesterday,  and snow had hidden all the trails. So I decided to just spend TLC time with each of the dogs in their kennels. I didn't get to all of them, but these are some of the ones I did spend a few minutes with:

A Pit Bull mix who gave me lots of kisses and eagerly laid down for belly rubs. A bonded pair of Chihuahua mixes who politely competed for space on my lap. A senior Rottweiler/Australian shepherd mix who liked to get up close and personal. A Great Dane mix who didn't get in my face, but gladly stood still while I rubbed his. A Rhodesian Ridgeback/Coonhound mix who, after weeks of being a very defensive mama dog, finally let me come near her without growling and barking. And lastly, a very timid German Shepherd mix who wouldn't get very close to me, but allowed me to massage her head, ears, and neck to coax her to sleep.
So basically,  yesterday was a very good day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Realizations

I spend too much time alone.

I'm losing my voice. Not in the sense that I can't talk anymore. But in the sense that more and more I've been neglecting to regularly vocalize what I think and feel. It's like my voice is slowly disappearing and I'm shrinking along with it.

I'm extremely fearful. And despite how I'd imagined it when I was in middle and high school, it's only gotten worse with "adulthood".

Respect your momma!

Walked in the door, turned on the TV, and caught the tail end of an argument on 'Teen Mom 2' between a young woman and her mom that really set me off.

I wish I would talk to my mom like some of our vanilla brothers and sisters be talking to theirs. This person gave you life, and you have the nerve to call them a "b***h"? I don't care if your momma stole your man, ate your Halloween candy in your face, sold your stuff, took all your money, humiliated you in public, hurt you, lied to you, told you that you were nothing, and forgot your birthday. You don't talk to your mom like that, let alone any woman.

If I tried any such thing with Ma, I'd be six feet under before anyone even thought to look for me.

Geez.Young people don't seem to have respect for anyone these days.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

1st Anniversary!

I almost forgot, but I couldn't let the day end without saying: As of today, DeelaSees blog has been live for 1 year!

 I still don't have a sizable readership, which is fine. I know that's my fault for not telling more people about this thing, but the original purpose of this wasn't to gain a mass following anyway.

From the beginning, DeelaSees has been about me expressing myself and learning how to be more honest, and  I'm just proud of myself for starting something new and sticking with it. This blog has allowed me to learn a lot about myself, and it's given me plenty of writing practice. (Hopefully my writing has gotten better! Haha.)

"1". Yes, that is my index finger, and not the other one.
Yes, that's Ma in the background.







Here's to another year!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Old School Love

Me: I noticed something about women in your generation and older. Why is it that one moment y'all wanna love on us all tenderly and what not, and then suddenly y'all turn on us like, "Okay, go away now. Get on. Get out of my face."? What's with that?

Ma: 'Cause we done said all we needed to say in that moment. Ain't no need of standing around any longer, 'cause you not gon' get no more.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Breather

I've noticed that this blog has been pretty black-and-white lately, so here's a little color from images that I originally saw on Instagram. I hope that their messages encourage you in times when you feel lost and weak.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sessions with Sue 4

This evening was our first session of 2014, and we talked mostly about fear. Though I still have my down moments (or days), I'd say that my general attitude about myself and life has improved considerably since we've started. But at a deeper level, I still struggle with fear and self-loathing. Too often I allow led me to stifle myself in a number of ways. As usual, here are some points from our conversation:
  • Pay attention to those moments when you (re)act out of fear. When this happens you operate on a limited set of options; it really shortchanges you and robs you of opportunities and potentially valuable experiences.
  • Fear keeps us small.
  • Embrace the things inside you that are desperately fighting to get out.
  • What matters most is how you feel and think about yourself. The notion that what people say about you defines you is a lie.
  • Eventually you'll get to a point where you'll want your insides to match your outsides, and you'll do something about it.
  • Recognize and remind yourself that you have something(s) extraordinary to offer this world.
  • Stop identifying yourself as "fat." That's an old word. Let's use new words!
  • Setbacks, not making the best choices, and falling back on old habits aren't necessarily mistakes, and you don't need to beat yourself up about them. You're just a human being trying to figure out how to live life. You just need time and practice.
  • It can be a great compliment to others to let them be there for you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Good Thirst.

More and more I'm beginning to appreciate those group exercise classes were I feel like the instructor is trying to kill me. Because afterward, all I can think is Must... have... water! All I want in life right now is WATER! And it's pretty nice. Because how often does one actually crave water, you know?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Flake-aholic

In my heart I know that it's possible for me to be the introverted homebody that I am, and still be a good friend. Or at least a person with a "healthy social life". Whatever that is.

It must be possible.

I don't want to be the queen of cancelling plans and avoiding commitment anymore.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Three days off. Count 'em. THREE!

The semester started yesterday, and I haven't gone to a single class yet.

Monday: Classes cancelled due to the snowstorm that swallowed the city from Saturday night to Monday morning. Snow day.

Tuesday (today): All classes before noon cancelled. So I got up, put on decent clothes, went downstairs for breakfast and was ready to go to my remaining classes.... and SURPRISE! All classes before 5pm cancelled. Another snow day for me.

Wednesday: All classes cancelled. The professor who teaches both my classes that day will be away in Chicago.

Friday: No Friday classes in my schedule this semester.

Which means, out of the four-day school week that I'm supposed to have, I'm only going to class one day. Assuming nothing happens to rule Thursday out too.

I could've stayed my behind at home for all this.

Monday, January 6, 2014

BOOKS! (Love)

Toni Morrison is my absolute favorite author, and I'm so glad that I saved one of the best for last on my winter reading list! To tell the truth, I've only read a few of her novels (Song of Solomon, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye). But each of them has disturbed me and challenged in such a way that I couldn't help but cherish and remember them. With her words she paints heartbreaking and comfort-shattering pictures of various African-American experiences, and undertakes difficult themes including memory, suffering, self-image, identity, trauma, and truth. I found this novel at an on-campus book sale, and I just had to have it!
Love by Toni Morrison

Set somewhere on the East Coast, this novel's "present" is in the 1990s, but the story spans a history of more than 40 years. Through it, Morrison presents to readers extreme examples of women competing with each other to claim and protect what they believe belongs to them. Desperately they grapple for status, position, security, attention, men, and of course, love.
The six main female characters, especially the ones who are related to a charismatic hotel owner named Bill Cosey, see each other as venomous enemies. The main conflict is the ongoing feud between Christine (Cosey's granddaughter) and Heed (Cosey's widow). They are the same age and are originally best friends, until Cosey takes Heed as his second wife when the girls are only 11 years old. From then until their old age, they are bitter rivals determined not to be replaced, upstaged, outsmarted, or defeated by one other.
Having been dead for 25 years, Bill Cosey never makes a physical appearance in the book's present. Yet he is the most important character, looming in people's memories, imaginations, and gossip. And despite having been a philandering husband, an elitist, an irresponsible businessman, a hedonist, and a pedophile, he's the blameless "Big Daddy",  the "Big Man", the "Good Man" who represents what each female character seeks in or from a male figure. Such is why each chapter's title indicates the various relationships that each female character has with him or his memory: Portrait, Friend, Stranger, Benefactor, Lover, Husband, Guardian, Father, Phantom.
Love isn't what I'm used to reading from Morrison. Its time period is closer to current times. And unlike the three books of hers that I'm familiar with, there's no element of fantasy, the supernatural, or the divine here. However, this book is just as raw in its account of womanhood and relationships, and it has quite a few bitter comedic moments. This is a great read for someone who'd like another challenging lesson from the wise woman that is Toni Morrison. It won't be a mind-bender, but prepare to be deeply saddened.

Favorite quotes:
"Naturally all of them have a sad story: too much notice, not enough, or the worst kind. Some tale about dragon daddies and false-hearted men, or mean mamas and friends who did them wrong. Each story has a monster in it who made them tough instead of brave, so they open their legs rather than their hearts where that folded child is tucked." (p. 4-5) 
"Hate does that. Burns off everything but itself, so whatever your grievance is, your face looks just like your enemy's." (p. 34)

BOOKS! (The Woman Warrior)

Want to know a funny story? Before I'd looked her up, I thought Maxine Hong Kingston was either a blasian woman, or a black woman who married an Asian man. The only Maxines I've ever heard of are black, and I've certainly never heard of an Asian woman having that name. So I was sure that this author must be black or connected to black people in some way! Come to find out, she is a first-generation Chinese American; her parents came from China before the Chinese Communist Revolution.
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Childhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

Like The Namesake, this book largely a story about immigrants. It's considerably different however; it plays out on the West Coast, and it is written from a female perspective. As Kingston demonstrates in some of the stories she tells, women are expected to be the keepers of culture, home/family, and tradition. However, while they are burdened with such responsibility, they suffer the worst during hard times and periods of change because they have little agency in traditional society. With this in mind, "woman warrior" can mean a number of things. It can mean an actual warrior who is empowered to defy rules and to protect and uplift her people. In a simpler sense, it can also mean any everyday woman fighting to survive, stand up for themselves, and/or make sense of life.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is "stories". Kingston even uses a term "talk-story" to indicate when people tell tales. The book is full of them: ancient myths, folk tales, anecdotes, unmentionable secrets of the past, world events, recollections. They also vary in location and perspective, ranging from the legend of Fa Mulan, to Kingston's mother's experience fighting off a ghost, to Kingston's bullying of a childhood friend. It can be confusing to keep track of what's going on as she wraps one tale around another, pauses one retelling to add pieces of another. However, I think that confusion is the point. For much of her life it seems that she herself is confused. It is hard for her to distinguish between what is particular to her own experience and what is Chinese/Chinese tradition. I think she uses a variety of interconnected stories to demonstrate that, growing up Chinese-American, her experience and identity are not bound by one place and one time period. Also, since stories function as memories here, they do not just belong to her or her generation.
The second word that comes to mind here is "ghosts". There are a variety of ghosts in this book. Some are literal ghosts (evil spiritual entities not be confused with the more revered and benevolent "spirits"). Some are imagined or felt, and function as warnings. Some are people. It's interesting to me that Kingston rarely refers to Americans as people. She and other Chinese characters in her memoir speak of them as "ghosts". If I were to guess why (assuming there's a reason for this) I'd say that it conveys the sense of being on guard in a strange land, surrounded by ignorant yet powerful strangers who are sure to have malicious intentions. Emigrants need to make a life in their new home, yet also keep their distance from American "ghosts" in order to avoid losing themselves.

While it's not the easiest read, I really appreciate Woman Warrior for its complexity. It's not even just the content; some aren't even sure what genre this book fits into! And I think that being able to create something that no one can seem to put a finger on or enclose in a box is an incredible skill and  accomplishment.

Favorite quotes:
"Perhaps women were once so dangerous that they had to have their feet bound." (p. 19)
"I can't sleep in this country because it doesn't shut down for the night... Time was different in China. One year lasted as long as my total time here; one evening so long, you could visit your women friends, drink tea, and play cards at each house, and it would still be twilight... Here midnight comes and the floor's not swept, the ironing's not ready, the money's not made. I would still be young if we lived in China." (p. 105-106) 

BOOKS! (Twelve Years a Slave)

I saw the movie in November and found it to be profoundly moving, and I recently received the book for my birthday. This is the opposite of how I usually do things (I like to read the book first and then see the movie, because I'm always partial to the written word). But hey, that's just how it worked out.
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup

In his autobiography Northrup, a free-born man from New York state, recounts the twelve years of bondage he endured in Louisiana after being kidnapped  and sold into slavery. He describes the locations, people, and horrors that he encountered using real names and sometimes excruciatingly vivid detail. This was meant to impress upon readers that he was telling the truth. It was also meant to assert to supporters of slavery at the time that slavery was not a system that benefited black people; blacks were equally human as anyone else, slaves did not enjoy being slaves, and they were not entirely ignorant of what freedom meant.
Reading this book, I surprisingly connected  more with the character named Patsey on paper than I had with Patsey on screen. As a cotton-picking slave she is expected to always be strong and perform exceptionally, yet she is never appreciated for her work, is sexually assaulted by her master on a regular basis, and is constantly blamed for wrongs that are not her own doing. I think that African-American female readers can all find something in Patty that resonates with their own individual experience. Because unfortunately, Patty's plight is consistent with a reality that many black women face in society and media as hyper-sexualized objects of both desire and derision. We are expected to be both tirelessly hard-working and ashamed of ourselves at the same time.
I think Twelve Years is excellent. It is honest, it sugarcoats little, and except for some outdated terms and phrases, it is easy to understand. The only problem I have with it is that Northrup  seems to make too many excuses for the so-called "good" slaveholders, claiming that it's the "barbarous and unjust" system's fault rather than their own that they developed such a cruel and callous disregard for human life. I don't find it remarkable that some masters pitied the plight of their slaves and treated them with kindness;  this is the least a man can do toward a fellow human being.  Having good hearts or good intentions doesn't outweigh the fact that these slaveholders owned slaves, and were complicit in the race-based institutionalized murder and degradation of innocent people.
One can never know this for sure, but I wonder if  Northrup would have made the same concessions about slaveholders had he been born into slavery. I do not mean to discredit the severity of his suffering (and Northrup does recognize the exceptional nature of his own background and position in the book). But being a free-born, educated, jack-of-all-trades black man from the North who was a slave for  only 12 years, Northrup discusses slavery from a privileged position that allows him to analyze the system in depth and pardon certain slave masters for their transgressions. Others who were born and died in chains might not have had the same perspective, and furthermore I do not think anyone should be pardoned for having perpetuated the horror of slavery, even if they might have felt a little bad about it. I apologize for getting on a soapbox about this point. I know that I do not have the right to argue with a dead man about his account of his own experience, but this is the one aspect of the memoir that I just couldn't get with.
I would like to say again that this book is outstanding. Depending on how much African-American literature you have read already, it might not teach you anything about slavery that you were not already aware of. However, it offers a unique and incredibly interesting experience through which one might contemplate slavery, race, and the American notion of liberty in new ways.
Favorite quotes:
"Not by human dwellings─not in crowded cities alone, are the sights and sounds of life. The wildest places of the earth are full of them. Even in the heart of that dismal swamp, God had provided a refuge and a dwelling place for millions of living things." (p. 92)
"Truly, Patsey was a splendid animal, and were it not that bondage had enshrouded her intellect in utter and everlasting darkness, would have been chief among ten thousand of her people." (p. 123)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

BOOKS! (Mogo's Flute)

 I was checking out a second-hand bookstore called 2nd & Charles, and at the door I found this children's book in the "FREE" bin. I almost put it back down and walked away, but I had just watched the documentary Dark Girls the night before and the lack of positive representations for brown-skinned people was still weighing heavily on my brain. Plus, it's an original copy from 1966, and I'm not one to ignore a sign like that when something that old just falls into my hands. I also extrapolated far into the future thinking, Well if I ever have kids, I could give them books by and/or about black people like Ma did me, and this would be an excellent book to start with. So I took it.

Mogo's Flute by Hilda van Stockum

 Mogo is a young Kikuyu boy in Kenya who suffers from a thalu (a sickness or curse that his ancestors placed upon him because people praised him too much as a baby). Because of this he is small, weak, clumsy, and often sickly. He cannot do what other boys his age can do, like play games and work in the fields. The only thing he is good at is playing the flute, a skill that one of his older brothers taught him. This is more than a skill, however. Some people say that Mogo has magic; his music captivates people,  summons and calms animals, calls on nature around him to flourish and shine. But at the same time people regard him as a pitiable, useless boy who will forever be a burden to his family if he does not learn to do other things. Following the advice of the village's wise man, Mogo focuses on  discovering his purpose in life.
After his flute is destroyed by a monkey, Mogo puts forth his best effort to succeed at tasks he is given by his father, like planting and goat herding. He gains respect from others as well as physical strength, but he still longs to play music again. One day, his uncle gives him his flute as a present. As Mogo is entrusted with more responsibilities and uses the flute to save his village's source of livelihood, he realizes that he does not have to choose between what he loves and what he feels obligated to do in order to become a respectable man. He is celebrated, for he has proven to everyone that his gift is not useless.
I appreciate this story a lot because it addresses coming-of-age in a way that people my age can relate to. For some people transitioning to adulthood means giving up childhood fantasies, quelling deeply-felt passions, and becoming serious; it means devoting themselves to what's required or expected of them in order to have a stable or quantitatively successful life. But van Stockum is trying to make readers understand that it does not have to be that way. You do not have to choose between what gives your life meaning and what makes people respect you. Whatever gift it is that you have, you've been given it for a reason! Lately I've been having a crisis about my future and important decisions I'll need to be making, and I tend to be too serious because that's the safe route for me. Believe it or not, Mogo's Flute has made me consider that maybe my problem is that I'm just thinking too small and trying to do too much.
Favorite quotes:
"It was a hard lesson for me to have to wait while nature did its work. But never mind, soil does not cheat a man. In the long run we are rewarded." (p. 50)
"All the things he had not been able to say poured out of his flute; he blew away all his longings, he freed the feelings that had been locked up for long months in his heart, transformed them into fountains of song that seemed to reach to the skies." (p. 71)

BOOKS! (The Namesake)

During my winter break I was able to read six books, the first which was The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. What follows today and tomorrow will be my reviews of the other five, starting with The Namesake. I read Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies two years ago and was awed by her way of vividly yet succinctly portraying human experience and intentions, especially in regard to culture and cross-cultural situations. I bought a copy of The Namesake a while ago, and it was second on my self-assigned winter reading list. Here are my thoughts on it. Also, in case anyone is wondering, I have not seen the film that's based on this novel, so I won't be touching on it at all.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

This novel reminded me a lot of Zadie Smith's White Teeth, in that it depicts the cultural and generational differences that arise between a pair of immigrant parents and their first-generation American children. The story begins with a father's inspiration to move from Bengal to Boston, and continues with his adult Indian-American son's struggle to reconcile his dual identities. This struggle of Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli is exemplified through his life experiences and his peculiar Russian-Bengali, Eastern-Western name (hence, The Namesake).

When Gogol Ganguli is born, "Gogol" is only meant to be his temporary and informal name, but as a child he insists on keeping it. As he grows older, he grows to hate both his name and his small world, which is largely composed of Bengali people and customs. During adulthood he legally changes his name to Nikhil (but Lahiri continues to refer to him as "Gogol"), decides to become an architect, moves to New York City, and has three unsuccessful long-term relationships (two of which are with non-Bengali women). Whether in effect or by intention, all of these decisions rebel against his parents' preferences. He is determined  to become his own man and distance himself from what he believes to be stifling traditions and expectations. Even after his father tells him about the near-death experience and affinity with Russian literature that gave him his name, Gogol still feels burdened by it.

The sudden death of his father is what leads Gogol to accept his name. At the end of the novel, he finally reads the book written by his namesake (Russian author Nikolai Gogol), which his father had given him as a birthday present while he was still alive.

What I like most about this book is that the immigrant parent-American child dynamic is not extreme. On their end, Gogol's parents are not strict or overbearing in their traditionalism. They adjust to life in America and let their kids live as they choose, while quietly retaining their resignations about American culture and their children's decisions. On his end, Gogol is not an American-born brat who hates his family and completely rejects his culture. He is a conflicted man, and while he loves and respects his parents, he also takes advantage of the opportunities he has to be different from them and find himself. Though his circumstances are particular, Gogol's experiences are not uncommon. I think that this aspect makes his story very relatable to young adults and 20-somethings in general, regardless of their parents' origin.

Favorite quotes:

"For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy─a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding." (p. 49-50)
"She has the gift of accepting her life; as he comes to know her, he realizes that she has never wished she were anyone other than herself, raised in any other place, in any other way." (138). 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Oranges

"Danielle, you always lookin' at the outside. The outside don't make the orange! " -Ma

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Grandpa 11

We were waiting for everyone to arrive at the New Year's gathering yesterday, when we saw Cousin M and his wife pull up outside the house.
 
Cousin B (to all of us sitting inside): Now you know Cousin M's going to talk us to death, so don't y'all act like you don't know.
 
Grandpa: Well, if we act like we don't know him, maybe he won't talk so much.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twenty14

I Rip Van Winkle'd my way into 2014.

My family's church's Watch Night service ended at 9:30pm, and this chick is not the partying kind. But I really wanted to bring in this New Year a different way. I didn't want to stay up and simply watch the minutes go by, as if just another day was coming. So I figured I'd go to bed early and let the New Year come in the night like a present, like Christmas morning is supposed to. Sleep came quickly; I didn't hear anybody's countdown, and by the grace of God I didn't hear anybody's gunshots.

I knocked out for 12 hours, and when I woke up it was another year!

All I want this year is consistency and balance. There are a number of other personal attributes that I could stand to develop, but I believe that once I have the first two, the rest will follow. It may very well take more than 2014 for me to get there, but I'll try my best not to get discouraged and go backwards.
 
A few days ago I was reading a passage in the Bible where Jesus sends his disciples out to do His work, and the verses below really spoke to my spirit:
"But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" -Matthew 10:19-20 (NIV)
I think that this will be the passage that guides me for the year. I tend to keep quiet in front of others because I'm not always sure how to say things, and I often worry about how people will receive me and my words. But this year, like last year, I'm going to push myself to be more honest and vocal. I'm a person just like anyone else, and I think I deserve to speak and sing like my life depends on it. Because it does.
 
That's all I have to say about today. No resolutions. Just my most pressing needs. To whomever may be reading this,  I thank the Lord above that you and I have been blessed to see 2014. Be Happy and God Bless! Happy New Year!