For Colored Girls

This week I'm re-reading Ntozake Shange's choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf and My God, what a beautiful work of art! One of my favorite poems from the collection is "Toussaint." Being born and raised in Haiti, I am very proud of my cultural and historial heritage. To me, "Toussaint" is the love/thank you letter I wish I could write to Toussaint Louverture. I also really loved "No more love poems #1, 2, 3 and 4." "Sorry" is another favorite of mine. But "Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff" definitely stole my heart. So yeah, I'm practically in love with Ntozake Shange. I only wish she would come back to UF before I graduate so I can take a class with her... Fingers crossed.

Food for Thought: Rose Kennedy

"Birds sing after a storm. Why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?" - Rose Kennedy


Food for Thought: G. K. Chesterton

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." -- G. K. Chesterton


Words That Don't Exist In the English Language (Part 2)

1. Toska
Russian – Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
2. Mamihlapinatapei
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start” (Altalang.com)
3. Jayus
Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh” (Altalang.com)
Photo:  craigallyn
4. Iktsuarpok
Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.” (Altalang.com)
5. Litost
Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.
6. Kyoikumama
Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement” (Altalang.com)
7. Tartle
Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name. (Altalang.com)
8. Ilunga
Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.” (Altalang.com)
9. Prozvonit
Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.” (Altalang.com)
10. Cafuné
Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.” (Altalang.com)
11. Schadenfreude
German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.
12. Torschlusspanik
German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.” (Altalang.com)
13. Wabi-Sabi
Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.” (Altalang.com)
14. Dépaysement
French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.
15. Tingo
Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.” (Altalang.com)
Hyggelig, Photo:  Stormberg AS
16. Hyggelig
Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire. (Altalang.com)
17. L’appel du vide
French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.
18. Ya’aburnee
Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
19. Duende
Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word. (Altalang.com)
20. Saudade
Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade. (Altalang.com)


Music: India.Arie's Video

I was driving from work yesterday and India.Arie's "Video" came on the radio. Now mind you, I had heard it many times before but it's funny how many times we can hear something and yet never actually listen to it. Yesterday, I was very glad I did. Though, I must admit how creeped out I was at first by the lyrics. I don't think I've ever been able to relate to a song the way I did this one. Not to sound narcissistic, but it felt like India.Arie wrote it about me. It's true that sometimes I just don't feel like shaving my legs or combing my hair. I've indeed gone several months without changing the color of my nail polish or even applying nail polish for that matter. But no matter what, I've always felt beautiful because the outside matters so very little when your inner queen is shining through.

 india.arie - Video .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don’t
Sometimes I comb my hair and sometimes I won’t
Depend of how the wind blows I might even paint my toes
It really just depends on whatever feels good in my soul
I’m not the average girl from your video
And I ain’t built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally,
Because I am a queen
I not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I’m wearing I will always be
When I look in the mirror and the only one there is me
Every freckle on my face is where it’s suppose to be
And I know my creator didn’t make no mistakes on me
My feet, my thighs, my Lips, my eyes, I’m loving what I see
Am I less of a lady if I don’t where panty hose
My momma said a lady ain’t what she wears but what she knows…
But I’ve drawn the conclusion, it’s all an illusion
Confusion’s the name of the game
A misconception, a vast deception,
Something got to change
Now don’t be offended this is all my opinion
Ain’t nothing that I’m saying law
This is a true confession
Of a life learned lesson
I was sent here to share with y'all
So get in when you fit in
Go on and shine
Clear your mind
Now’s the time
Put your salt on the shelf
Go on and love yourself
‘Cause everything’s gonna be alright
Keep your fancy drink, and your expensive minks
I don’t need that to have a good time
Keep your expensive cars and your caviar
All’s I need is my guitar
Keep your crystal and your pistol
I’d rather have a pretty piece of crystal
Don’t need you silicone, I prefer my own
What god gave me is just fine…

For Laughs and Giggles

Here are some quotes that made my day:

"I'm as country as they come. You cut me, I bleed gravy." - Gentleman at my job

"Son, I've been dating since Chlamydia was a first name." - $#*! My Dad Says

"You keep pushing eventually it comes out the other way." - $#*! My Dad Says

"Guess that makes me the magical black friend, uh?" - guess this is funnier in context. Oh well :)

Viva La Vida


Sleeping with The Enemy: Living with Systemic Lupus Erythematous

I have lupus. It is not something I think about often.  Truth is, it is something I actively work on not thinking about, with the idea being that if I ignore it, it'll go away. To be honest,  I realize that I'm really fooling myself. You can't actually fool lupus into thinking it is not there. There is no magic formula to make it disappear. No cure, no hope, just pain. Like it or not, the stiffness, depression, rashes, lack of energy, brain fog, sensitivity to sunlight, etc. will always be there to remind you that you are not like everyone else. But not thinking about lupus, not letting it rule the way I live also helps me fool other people into treating me like I'm a normal, healthy person and not that girl-with-the-weird-illness-that's-not-really-cancer-and-is-probably-just-really-lazy.
Amster Lupus Butterfly Walk Logo

I have lupus. This is not something I can forget nor something I can realistically ignore. I can try not to think about it, but it's there. But truth of the matter is, it's here now and it will always be. I can treat the symptoms, pump my body full of odd chemicals, avoid sick people or people who look like they might be sick, avoid stress, exercise when I can, eat healthy, wear sunscreen, and avoid heels, and hope my friends understand when I lack the energy to even get out of bed, but fact is, I will always have lupus. So I find that it's better to not think about it. To get out of bed when I can and stay in when I can't. To enjoy the very few moments when I am not in pain and to simply ignore the people who try minimize my illness.

I have lupus. I don't like it but I must live with it. So try not to judge when my hair isn't done or I'm wearing flats when everyone else has heels because most days, I'm just grateful I was able to get out of bed.

For more information about Lupus:
The LUPUS Foundation of America
U.S. National Library of Medicine


A Threat to Justice Everywhere

I am not sure why the strong insist on oppressing the weak. Tale as old as time. Whether it's in politics, business, religiously motivated, or militarily. Whether it's whites vs. blacks, men vs. women, adults vs. children, hetero vs. LGBTQ, liberals vs. conservatives, etc. The will of one or a few to acquire power always ends up tromping the rights and livelihood of the majority. And the world oftentimes sits back and pretends it is not happening, until it's too late. Maybe it's Darwinism - survival of the fittest - or maybe it's human nature. Either way, I do not know of any case when oppression has ever ended well for anyone. Dictators fall. Revolutions rise. Blood is shed. Lives are lost. No one wins. If only human beings would stop and open a history textbook; if only they would listen to their elders and learn about their history, world history, human history, maybe they would learn a thing or two about oppression, injustice, and hate. Maybe they would realize that there really is nothing to gain from it.

So tonight, heart goes out to the men and women around the world suffering from political and social oppression and fighting for their rights to be in: Egypt, Haiti, Tunisia, Israel/Palestine, Algeria, Yemen, Turkey, right here in the USA and elsewhere around the world. And to those of you reading this, remember, as Martin Luther King once said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."