Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Work in Progress

Below is an excerpt from a story I began working on in the summer of 2009 [sigh], however, I plan to add more to it over winter break. Right now, it is quite wordy and not devoid of errors in both syntax and grammar. So go easy on it and on me. Thanks.

There is only one way to get back home. Take the bridge down Ahmadu Bello Road over the Kaduna River down to Barnawa. It was always Barnawa until the riot turned it into New Jerusalem with the Christians on one side and the Muslims on the other.

It was almost dusk. The call for prayers went out as the flock began to return home. They understood the call and poured into the compound in single file. The older rams rubbed their sides against the wall as they entered while the lambs frisked around. Mallam Umaru rolled lazily on his bed. He had been in the same position since he finished his dinner. Dinner was tuwo, a corn meal staple and soup made from okra. The soup was very thin so that the okra lay in clumps at the bottom of the bowl while a whitish liquid floated on top. There were two chunks of meat in the soup.

Actually, the chunks weren’t really meat. They were bones the butcher saved for people who could not afford to purchase meat. The bones were typically filled with thick yellow marrow that oozed out and hung limply by a thread-like film.

The bones were kept in a bucket covered with swarms of bluish green flies. The flies were usually loud and the butcher often had to yell above the sound of their annoying chorus. His yelling coupled with the rhythmic slamming of his knife made him look sinister. He never gave a bone away. He sold every part of the cows he purchased. The testicles too, every part had some value.

Last week, Mallam Umaru had to severely whip his youngest son Yahaya. Yahaya had toppled the pot of soup as he tried to gnaw off some of the meat on the bone. The crashing of the pot to the ground woke the entire house. Mallam Umaru unleashed his wrath on the young boy, letting the horsetail whip inflict stripes. He couldn’t decide on what to be angry about, the fact that his son had tried to eat the meat off the bones or that there would be no dinner the next day.

Finally, he planted his feet on the floor rubbed his eyes and then smoothed the fuzz on his head. He let his fingers linger much longer in the middle, circling his bald spot slowly as he fixed his gaze on the door. His eyes dropped down to his prayer mat and then he looked at the corner of the room where his golden kettle was nestled with several plastic kettles. He heard the call again and finally pulled his weight off the bed.

As he opened the door to exit the house, the rams stood up and walked away from under the awning giving him room to make his path. He walked hastily towards the gate his long robes fluttering softly in the wind. As he walked down the road he thought about Salamatu. She had been with him the previous night and would be back tonight. As the thought of the previous night crossed his mind a smile formed on his face. He didn’t see the young man on the bicycle and he didn’t have the time to jump out of the bicycle’s path. The bicycle was old and rusty. The brakes would have been useless even if the driver applied them.

Mallam Umaru felt the left handle bar plow into his sides and then he was knocked off balance. His kettle lodged itself by the front tire of the bicycle and his mat lay a few feet away on the ground. As soon as he landed on his bottom an orange fell into his lap. A few minutes ago, the orange had been sitting in a carefully arranged pattern with others on a metal tray balanced on the head of the bicyclist.

The young bicyclist began to curse at him for not looking out. Mallam Umaru rubbed his head again this time, but he did not let his fingers linger on his bald spot. He ran them down quickly and let his hand slide past his belly button all the way down. The cursing grew louder and a small crowd started to form.

“Dan Iska” the boy yelled, “Open your eyes old man and look where you are going.” He continued.

“If you’re too hungry to keep your eyes open for long then pray in your bedroom.” He said, his voice rising higher.
Mallam Umaru looked up, trying to find a sympathetic face among the crowd of strangers. A younger man in glasses with his prayer mat slung over his shoulder stepped forward and offered to pay the boy for the oranges. The boy stated an inflated price and stuck his hand out defiantly, a look of anger on his face. The bespectacled gentleman put a wad of notes in his hand and begged him to forgive the old man.

Mallam Umaru sat in bitter silence, wallowing in the shame of the whole incidence. He was grateful for his long robe that ran to his feet. It masked the telltale signs of his thoughts just before the accident. With the help of another gentleman he propped himself up and thanked the bespectacled gentleman. The gentleman pressed some money into his hands and told him to praise Allah he was okay.

A young boy blind in one eye with unshorn hair handed him his kettle and mat and asked if he was okay. The boy lingered for a few minutes starring at the crumpled notes in Mallam Umaru’s hands. The boy had already filled his enamel bowl with the dust-covered oranges he gleaned off the floor and through his good eye he looked intently at Mallam Umaru, expecting a note or two. As he gazed, he raised his hand quickly to smack a fly that had perched itself on the thick mucus that ran from his nose. Grateful for the distraction, Mallam Umaru thanked the onlookers, mumbled an apology to the young bicyclist and continued on his way to the mosque.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's an excerpt of the things I am thankful for taken from my Facebook page...I am thankful for Law School, Barack Obama, Mad Men, Marie Claire magazine, great books, Maxwell's voice, mechanical pencils, ice-cream, JD's Chippery, perfume, chocolate, my endearing MacBook, fur inspite of PETA, blogs, great furniture, NYTimes, amazing destinations, overly sweetened iced tea, shea butter, dental floss, lipstick, great convos, Amy Winehouse singing "Take the Box," air freshner, candles, and incense (lol), NM, Cardozo's opinions, Gentlemen's Quarterly, Publix, Target, good health inspite of all the odds, Mama Oprah, African print, beautiful shoes, museums, couture dresses, great photography and mostly thankful that The Game returns to regularly scheduled programming on Jan 11, 2011 (BETs best decision ever). Besos!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Learning to Smile Like An American

Upon my arrival in the United States from Nigeria eleven years ago, I noticed something rather peculiar about Americans. They always smiled. At first, I found it alarming that strangers would smile at me for no apparent reason. But I soon learned that Americans smiled quite effortlessly because theirs was perhaps the only country where the article of their liberation included the right to the pursuit of happiness.

Had I left Nigeria for New York, or some other New England state, my experience might have been different. But I came to Atlanta, the home of Southern hospitality, where your smile has to be as sweet as the tea and your disposition as light as biscuits.

The first episode of someone smiling at me for no reason at all occurred one afternoon at the grocery store. As I walked in, a lady made eye contact with me and just began grinning widely. I did not know how to respond, for it was an awfully awkward moment. Was she smiling at me lovingly as she would her child or was she mocking me with her smile?

A few months after being in the United States, I began working at my first job as a cashier at Target. My red Abercrombie and Fitch polo shirt and my Gap khakis made me look every inch the American, but there was something missing. It was not so much in my looks, but rather my disposition. Three months after working at my job, I received a review from my supervisor which was otherwise stellar but for one single line that read something like “Improve on your smile” or maybe it was “Learn to smile at customers.” The response to the unfavorable evaluation I received was a crying bout that lasted for almost half an hour in the store bathroom.

After the incidence at work, another occurred at my church. I was walking down the aisle after depositing my offering at the altar when the youth Pastor and his wife, both Americans, began gesturing at me wildly to smile. I am not exaggerating, for they were almost falling out of the pews. I was wounded and mortified. I wasn’t angry or in a bad mood that day, I just wasn’t accustomed to walking around smiling like a goof ball, especially when solemn music was playing in the background. Smiling unnecessarily was the domain of jesters or fools, who had nothing better to do than grin like the Cheshire cat all day.

In her book, “Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World,” Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed” and “Bait and Switch,” explores the folly of the American culture of cheerfulness and positive thinking. Ehrenreich discusses her diagnoses of breast cancer in 2001and her subsequent induction to the sorority of pink ribbons and bunny rabbits and incessant admonishment to put on a happy face and just be cheerful. Ehrenreich launches a full attack on the cult of cheerfulness in America where positive is seen as normal and any deviation from the norm is malign or un-American.

In all, Americans are by far the most cheerful humans on the face of the earth. From birth, they are told to smile, have a positive attitude, and are indoctrinated with upbeat slogans that are much a part of Americana as cheeseburgers and baseball. The culture of cheerfulness that’s born in the homes and stirred up in the schools is carried on to the work place where employers constantly encourage their workers to be pleasant. They are reminded to smile, to look cheerful and to always have a “can do” attitude. Nowhere else in the world is the doctrine of cheerfulness expounded as it is in the United States. There is no room for the curmudgeon here. America is the land where everyone smiles because we are all so elated we cannot hold back our contagious joy. For we have learned that when you smile at the world, the world smiles back at you.

America’s rabid obsession with insipid optimism is even immortalized in popular culture. The most popular icon of the movement is the yellow smiley face designed by Harvey Ball in 1963. Ball never patented his idea, thus forfeiting the cash cow it would become. However, in the 1970s brothers Murray and Bernard Spain, looking for means to make some quick cash, borrowed Harvey’s smiley and added the phrase “Have a happy day,” creating a revolution of sorts. The phrase would change over time to read “Have a nice day,” becoming the slogan for a nation that was mired in racial turmoil and fighting a war in Vietnam.

Unfortunately, the hot pursuit of happiness and cheer sadly belie the statistics and polls that find the United States bringing in the rear on happiness indices. While it may be easy to discredit these indices for not being thoroughly based on scientific evidence, the sales and prescriptions of anti-depressants and levels of violent crimes shows that the positive thinking campaign may be falling on deaf ears. By contrast, Nigeria for all its instability and discouraging development indices once took the top spot as the happiest country in the world.

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard taking inventory of the omnipresent culture of happiness in the United States remarked that, “whether I am right in all this or not, they certainly do smile at you here, though neither from courtesy, nor from an effort to charm. This smile signifies only the need to smile. It’s a bit like the Cheshire cat’s grin: it continues to float on faces long after all emotion has disappeared.” Baudrillard’s observation is quite interesting, because the smiles I received were sometimes juxtaposed against contradictory behavior. The same person who smiled at me was the same individual who would be really stern and sometimes downright mean, lending credence to Shakespeare’s famous line from Hamlet, “A man may smile, and smile and be a villain.”

Interestingly, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, the perfect paradigm of a self-loather, would list the song “Smile” made famous by Charlie Chaplin as his favorite. The chorus of the song, “Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking, when there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by…” are outside of the realm of common sense, for it ignores the idiocy of its instructions, because the sky could indeed be falling over your head. So, is it probable to assume that Jackson might still be alive if he had found an outlet for his emotional disturbances rather than hide them behind a dubious smile?

Nonetheless, after a decade of living in the United States I have become infected with the cheerfulness bug and find people who don’t smile disturbing. Recently, my sister showed me a picture of a friend’s two-year old niece and at once, I made a comment that she had grown out of her good looks and would have look prettier if she had been smiling. Perhaps she had not yet learned to say “cheese,” ensuring that her smile was wide, barring those pearly whites.

Just last week, I went to an Asian grocery store in my neighborhood to return a rotten bag of mussels I had purchased earlier. I left the store feeling slightly irritated until I walked by an old Asian lady who I believe had just made the trip across the Pacific to a new life in the Americas. She looked quite unhappy as she trudged behind her family, seemingly lost in this new sea of red, white, and blue. So, for my personal fracas with the so-called culture of cheer, imagine my surprise when I made eye contact with her and then ensued to do what I believed was the most American of all behaviors. I smiled.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Will the Real Italian-Americans Please Stand Up?

What Francis Ford Coppola’s epic movie, “The Godfather,” did in inviting the movie going public to an experience of Italian-American culture is now being attempted by MTV’s reality series, “Jersey Shore,” now in its second season. The reality series that was first filmed in August 2009 in Seaside, New Jersey, debuted on December of the same year to mixed reviews. Chronicling the lives of eight young adults who worked at a boardwalk souvenir store in exchange for room and board, the show thrives on the dramatization of offensive Italian-American stereotypes and the use of the term guido and guidette, a pejorative slang term that refers to working class Italian-Americans.

What the series has done is obliterate images of hard working Italian-Americans arriving at Ellis Island with leathery, sun burned faces with a new breed of obnoxious, bacchanal young adults, whose existence is defined by excessive gym visits, frequent tanning, poor diction, uncouth behavior, gel spiked hair, slutty outfits, alcohol abuse, and promiscuous behavior.

When Mario Puzo walked into the office of Robert Evans, who was then head of production for Paramount Pictures in the spring of 1968, he came bearing a few pages of written script that would later become The Godfather, the piece de resistance of his career. Puzo’s book based entirely on research was about organized crime within a prominent Italian-American family and introduced the word Mafia into American lexicon, sparking a war between Paramount Pictures and the dark stratums of the Mob.

So offensive was the word Mafia that the head of one of the largest mob families in New York at the time, Joseph Colombo Sr. began an organization, The Italian American Civil Rights League that set out to charge the F.B.I with persecution and violation of civil rights.

Puzo’s book was going to tell about the fabled Italian underworld, outing a string of actual mob families that profited from racketeering and illicit gambling operations.

Attempting to halt Puzo and Paramount, Colombo and his cohorts then embarked on a war of sorts fraught with threats that were of the same ilk as the sight of a prize horse’s head wrapped in silk bed sheets.

The response to threats from Colombo would lead to a meeting that cornered the movie producers into erasing any mention the word mafia (which by the way only appeared once) from the movie script and Paramount subsequently garnering the support of Colombo and the greater Italian-American community.

While Coppola’s movie may be criticized for being about as offensive as Jersey Shore, depicting Italian-Americans as savage, cold-blooded brutes, The Godfather can be treated as social commentary that is reflective of American life, playing on themes of sex, greed, love for family, and capitalism. What’s more, it’s a reflection of great writing and skillful minds. Jersey Shore however is different. The cast members are left to use their imagination to humor the audience. But what starts off as comedy quickly turns into a farce on Italian-Americans. It can be argued that the series is reflective of contemporary American youngsters, but the series is not an equal opportunity undertaking. The main stars are Italian-Americans. No jokes are made on other sub-cultures, the show promises after all to show us guidos at their best.

Surely, MTV is no PBS nor has ever claimed to be the instructor on what is and isn’t acceptable in race relations or normal human behavior (not with shows like Jackass or Parental Control), still the subtle lessons on the show cannot be ignored. Mention the word Italian-American and the first images that come to mind aren’t of cheese or Don Corleone. Rather, Snooki and her bird’s nest hairdo are proximate.

Incidentally, the second season of Jersey Shore makes it grand debut on the same day as Arizona’s racist law, which is a poorly disguised witch hunt aimed at Latinos. Just like Arizona wants all of America to believe that SB 1070 will be as normal as having an order of fries with your super-sized burger, MTV wants you to believe that singling out a racial group for a gag is. But since hordes of people do not indulge in watching clips of fascist parades with nostalgia, I doubt that Jersey Shore will ever be remembered for anything close to brilliance in the future. The only memories of Jersey Shore will be crummy impressions of Snooki hidden in Facebook photo archives, under the album: Halloween.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Photograph

Mural from Coney Island...Amber Rose now graces murals? There's Hope. Have a great weekend!

photograph courtesy of fashionispoison

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On A Mother's Love

"The Exotic and the sunlit when I could easily have had a boyhood of stern and dutiful English gray. She was the cream in the coffee, the gin in the Campari, the offer of wine or champagne instead of beer..."

~Christopher Hitchens

These few lines mark the authors dedication of his memoir to his mother. I read them and was profoundly moved by how beautifully crafted they were. "...the offer of wine or champagne instead of beer." So beautiful and so well deserving to not only mothers, mine chief among them all, but all kinds of lovers whose love is boundless.

Monday, May 31, 2010

No Sex in This City

When I saw the first “Sex and the City” movie, I had perhaps only seen about six or seven episodes of the show. Not enough to call myself a fan or to recognize the name Carrie Bradshaw and all it symbolized. However, the buzz about the movie and rumors about Carrie finally getting the one thing she wanted more than all the Manolos at Bergdorf Goodman was enough for me to get a ticket and head down to the pictures with an old buddy from college.

I will admit that the movie was a visual treat. The fashion was splendid, the music was delightful and the plot was interesting. For all the climaxes and lows, the movie ends with Samantha as horny as when the pilot was shot, Charlotte enjoying matrimonial bliss, Miranda climbing the corporate ladder at her firm and Carrie still in pursuit of the elusive Big. I left the movie theatre entertained, mostly by the fashion, although I’ll admit the plot played a role in the euphoria I was floating in. But besides the labels and love theme of the movie, there was an underlying theme of pursuing dreams and searching for and finding happily ever after. After all, isn’t that what movies are supposed to challenge us to do?

Serendipitously, I was loaned the entire “Sex and the City” box set right on the heels of the release of “Sex and the City 2.” I’ve watched the series in the daytime, late into the night, on the weekends. I’ve watched a couple of episodes over. I have had to hit the pause button at several junctures to fully wrap my head around the outrageous yet funny episodes in the lives of Carrie and the girls. I am still plowing slowly in the frothiness that is the box set, having only made it to I believe episode five of season four. Slowly, it’s all making sense, as I’m able to put pieces of the puzzle together. Any honest woman will admit that you can’t watch either of the movies or episodes of the show without the realization that these women mirror some of their idiosyncrasies, fears, and who knows, their wild sex lives?

But seriously, watching the box set, I kept on asking myself, are there women out there who really live like Charlotte, Miranda, Carrie and Samantha? And Samantha? Are there really women who have multiple one-night stands? Women who sleep with bartenders, random movie stars, guys in dark, dingy clubs with bad haircuts? Do these women really exist somewhere out there or are they just the musing of Michael Patrick King and Darren Star? After all, let’s be honest, both King and Star are openly gay, so is it fair to assume that these women don’t exist, but that King and Star want to believe they do?

Having not been a fan when the show aired on HBO, I’ve been left to wonder if the show was only a poor attempt at mimicking the culture of single thirty somethings or if the show was the perfect paradigm of what women should aspire to. It would be nice to have Michael Buble’s “Call Me Irresponsible” playing in the background every time the show came on because that’s the only tag for the behavior that was constantly paraded on the show. Irresponsibility at its finest. Sexual irresponsibility.

Sure, the show starts of with condom-carrying Carrie, but it’s not until one of the final episodes of Season three that any mention is made of the possible risks of unprotected sex after Samantha is forced to get tested by one of her cheap f@$#s, as she calls them. Still, in season four, unprotected sex is what gets Miranda pregnant for a boyfriend she’s long broken up with and who has in the space of their separation been with other women.

If there’s anything I have learned about American culture, it’s that Americans are quick to somehow believe that the people in the television box somehow set the standard of what acceptable behavior is. Look at what the O.C did to American teenagers. The foolishness still hasn’t stopped. It’s still going strong with the cast of “The Hills” and “The City.” What young person has not wished they were Lauren Conrad for a day? Let’s not talk about our favorite guidos and guidettes either. So I can only imagine the effect of “Sex and the City” on a horde of impressionable twenty and thirty somethings across this great country.

With “Sex and the City 2,” the quartet picked up from where they left off. Carrie finally is married to Big and has embarked on the task of furnishing their apartment, and lavishly so. I’ll call the furniture in their apartment the highlight of the movie. Samantha is still on the circuit sleeping with everything that uses a urinal, Miranda and Steve are still couple, while Charlotte is mothering two children. The movie begins with a wedding, that of Stanford to Anthony. The wedding is very gay, replete with a gay men’s glee club, white swans, and of course Liza Minnelli who reprises the spirit of Sasha Fierce in a very lousy rendition of “Single Ladies.”

The movie has no central plot, but rather skirmishes around with a plethora of plots. Samantha lands a promising public relations job that takes her and her friends to Abu Dhabi as guests of a very deep-pocketed client. In Abu Dhabi, they are spoiled with lavish gifts and lodged in a very expensive hotel where they each have a personal butler and a chauffeured car. The trip is a welcome break for Charlotte who is struggling with being a mother and for Miranda who just quit her position as senior partner at her firm.

In between desert safaris, poolside parties and shopping trips at the souk, Carrie runs into Aidan an old flame, and agrees to go to dinner with him, where they exchange a kiss. She goes ahead to tell Big who is angered by her behavior. I sensed some memory loss on Big’s part, because, the initial break-up between Carrie and Aidan occurred because Carrie cheated on Aidan with Big while Big was married to Natasha. As is typical with Samantha, she is caught having relations with a stranger on the beach and as a result, the free services they were given were cut and they were left with the option of staying on in Abu Dhabi at their own expense.

The supposed Abu Dhabi location and Islam are fodder for pushing the envelope, and the movie skirted with the topic of women’s rights. In a sense, the notion that American women are not fully free despite the so-called freedom we are supposed to have was discussed. But in a larger sense, the finger pointing was at Middle Eastern culture. The idea of wearing burqas and other such garments were parodied. I doubt that the movie and all it represents will humor Muslim clerics. First, it included sex scenes, the kinds that made the show a hit with a lot of fans and also, it made the mistake of shaming Muslim culture on a very public stage.

An interesting issue that the movie raised was the issue of migrant workers. Carrie’s assigned butler was a migrant worker from India who was only able to afford to make four trips home in a year to visit his family. Visiting Dubai two years ago, I was pained by the number of Indian and other South East Asian migrant workers that dotted the entire city. They worked long tortuous hours in service and labor-intensive jobs, building hotels they will never be able to afford and selling jewelry they will never sport. Nonetheless, it seems that the government of the UAE has some sort of migrant worker initiative in place. The United States might want to adopt a similar program or at least one that will make the antagonists in Washington and Arizona happy. Having witch-hunts aimed at illegal immigrants will not get very far and the sooner this realization is embraced the better.

The movie ends with Carrie returning back to an upset but humbled Big, who realizes his vows trump Carrie’s indiscretions. And of course, sexually liberated Samantha who wants the entire UAE to know that she has sex continues her relations with her very hot companion. In all the movie lacked in many aspects and tried too hard to live up to the supposed idea of “Sex and the City.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where Fear is Slave

I remember reading a story as a child. I don't quite remember all of it, but it had to do with a sign on a mailbox that read G.I.Ant. Removing the punctuations, the words read "giant," with the punctuations, it could have stood for Geronimo Ignatius Ant, or Geraldine Imelda Ant. However, few people dared find out what it was. They read the words "giant" and immediately feared impending doom. Perhaps, they may have had unpleasant encounters with giants in the past and now were scarred by the experience. If only they cared to knock on the door, a poor little ant whose initials were G.I. would have welcomed them in.

Last week, I had a G.I.Ant moment. I got a salad from Chick-fil-A. I was going to write I got a salad from a fast food place, but God forbid it was some other place...My order was wrong to begin with and there was no silverware in the bag. I took the salad home either way and called to let the manager of the location know. A few bites into my meal, I began to choke on the salad. It was not horrific by any stretch, but it scared me. I managed to have a few bites but I had to give up on the salad eventually.

Later the same evening at a dinner event, I was about to put a piece of salmon in my mouth, when all of a sudden I was gripped by fear. Fear of choking on my food. I got so scared I didn't eat a bite of the food and the food was good...salmon, spring salad, pasta, cremé brulee, key lime pie, and cheese cake. I put a piece of the whipped cream to my lips and the fear paralyzed me. I came home hungry and gave little thought to the fear that now seemed to envelope me.

On Sunday, I didn't eat a bite. I was stricken with fear. Finally with my sister sitting in my room, I managed to eat a cup of yogurt and tea in an hour and half. I was frozen. The days rolled by. Sunday turned into Monday, gave way to the end of Wednesday, all I had eaten was the yogurt, tea, and some fish soup. I looked up choking on the internet and realized that I was becoming prey to a condition called "pseudodysphagia," or irrational fear of choking. This is a psychological disorder where the sufferer fears choking on foods, and adopts a liquid diet because some foods are seen as unsafe and viewed as hazardous.

This may seem light but by yesterday, I had only had one full meal. I had little snacks inbetween, spending perhaps twenty five minutes on two cookies. I prayed with my family and some friends and had to believe God that this torment was a lie devised by the devil. If I could gulp down three glasses of milk, then why was I afraid to eat a piece of chicken. I had to realize that Satan was trying to create fear in my heart. In my despair I reached for scripture after scripture and I found comfort in John 17:15, "...that you protect them from the evil one." This was a direct prayer Jesus prayed to the Father before his crucifixion. It resonated deeply with me that Jesus had taken the time to pray for his sheep before his departure. Reading the entire chapter, I found prayers that addressed almost every challege we could potentially face.

The fear of choking, the fear of heights, of speaking in public, arachnophobia, of death, of poverty, sickness, the fear of G.I.Ant. Fear can take hold if we let it, but God reminds us that he has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. I suffered for a whole week at one time feeling really weak and exhausted. I knew God was present, but I didn't trust him full when I should have. Don't let fear put you in a corner. Be bold and take the plunge trusting that the one who bids you come will not let you fall. Go out on a limb and let God bear the shame if you fail...because you won't. He'll be there to rein you in and will not let go. So today, stare down your fears and remember God's got your back.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Gift of Time

I haven’t written in so long that I almost believe I may need to relearn the art of writing. It is true that when God endows us with gifts, those gifts are lasting. However, even the most gifted of us must practice. If Michelangelo only sculpted when he was in the mood, if Oprah only spoke on days she felt like doing so, Tiger only played when his secrets were in the closet, if Alvin Ailey only danced…okay, so I believe I’ve made my point clear.

Lately, I’ve had some time on my hands, time I’ve spent doing mostly nothing. Sometimes I decry the constant boredom. I wish I were doing. Doing academic work, doing some kind of work, just doing. I am a doing person. I hate being idle. Sometimes I don’t know exactly how to relax because I am always planning or scheduling activities in my head. It’s just my nature. I detest boredom. I don’t leave my home without reading material. I am terrified of being somewhere and not having a book or magazine to read. This doesn’t mean I am some hermit who uses the excuse of a book to ignore human company. I enjoy company but I’d much rather read.

So, as I have all this time on my hands, I keep wishing I were doing something else. However in the midst of wishing I were doing, I suddenly stopped a few afternoons ago. I realized that this might be the only time in my life for a long time, when I am completely and totally in control of my time. A time will come in my life when my time may not be mine alone. When my life will be given to the dictates of family, work, and other pressing demands of life.

As devoid of awe as this revelation was, it was one of those moments Isaac Newton must have had on the verge of great invention. I realized I had a great gift, one that many seek, but only few ever posses; the gift of time. Upon this realization, my thinking shifted. Sometimes in life, nothing major has to change. We don’t have to come into great wealth or find the elixir of youth. We just need a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking. So, in the meantime, I need to make sure I use this gift of time wisely to ensure I give back to the Giver a gift in this time.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why the Saints Need to win Super Bowl XLIV

i. Keeping up with the Kardashians needs to return for another season of pure mindless foolywang
ii. Reggie Bush needs to propose to Kim. Lala's got a man, Khloe's got Lamar, Kourtney has a son and a shrimp...
iii. I need to hear my Nawlins folk blow their brass instruments
iv. Nothing will give me as much pleasure as a celebratory Second Line all around the stadium
v. Hand grenades will taste much better
vi. The Saints need to go marching in tonight
vii. We need to see those white 'kerchiefs raised in victory
viii. It will be the right way to kick off Mardi Gras
ix. It will make wearing any garment or trinket with a fleur de lis so worth it tomorrow
x. After Katrina, don't the Saints deserve to win?

So, who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? I thought so! Go Saints et laissez les bon temps rouler!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hope for Haiti Now Telethon

"Hope For Haiti Now: A Global Benefit For Earthquake Relief" announces lineup of superstar musical performances.

Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, and Sting Will Appear in New York City; Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift, and a Group Performance by Keith Urban, Kid Rock, and Sheryl Crow in Los Angeles; Coldplay, and a Group Performance by Bono, The Edge, Jay‐Z, and Rihanna in London.

All Performances to be Available for Purchase from Apple® iTunes® Store with Proceeds Benefiting Select Haiti Relief Funds. More than One Hundred of the Biggest Names in Film, Television, and Music to Appear on “Hope for Haiti Now,” Along with Wyclef Jean in New York City, George Clooney in Los Angeles, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper in Haiti.

The telethon will air commercial-free across MTV, VH1, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, the CW, HBO, CMT, PBS, TNT, Showtime, Comedy Central, Bravo, E! Entertainment Network, National Geographic Channel, Oxygen, G4, Centric, Current TV, Fuse, MLB Network, Epix, Palladia, SoapNet, Style, Discovery Health and Planet Green. Canada's CTV, CBC Television, Global Television and MuchMusic also will air "Hope for Haiti," as will BET International, CNN International, National Geographic and MTV Networks International, making the event available in 640 million homes worldwide.

You can also view the entire "Hope for Haiti" telethon online, at

Information from Hope for Haiti Now Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Save Haiti Now

A fierce earthquake labeled as the worse in 200 years devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on January 12. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake left the capital in shambles, with toppled buildings strewn all over. The death toll has not been estimated, however, it is sure to be high, in a city were overpopulation is an issue. That Haiti should suffer a catastrophe of this sort is quite sad, given that Haiti is without question the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Over the next couple of days, I will blog more about Haiti. I have a special interest in the country, that began with Dr. Paul Farmer, renowned Harvard University professor of medicine whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago in Denver and the famed writer Edwidge Danticat, who introduced me through her writings to the immigrant experience of Haitians in America. To help the relief effort in Haiti, please visit the following charities and follow their links to contribute monetarily.

yéle haiti
American Red Cross

Please be a savvy giver. If you are unsure about any organizations soliciting funds for victims of the earthquake, do your research before making a donation.
Photograph courtesy of the New York Times