Music: Common's "I Want You"

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night on the Rhone

"Take a look at the moon, it reminds me of you / Hope the stars and the gods align me and you." - Common


Going Home Again: Day Three in Haiti

Motion Sickness, headaches, and politics. That was the story yesterday. The lack of roads here could make every outing a very exciting adventure for some and a nightmare from hell for others. I fall in the latter category. The theory is that roads aren't built in the certain neighborhoods in order to keep the masses out. What do I know?

Going Home Again: Day Two in Haiti

I went into the heart of Port-au-Prince today. My mom had to go find out about my grandfather's life insurance policy, which by the way is a whole other mess. Nothing is ever simple or easy in Haiti. Nothing. Anyway, the further I got into Port-au-Prince, the sadder, more depressed, and angry I got. Port-au-Prince seemed dirty, overcrowded, and ugly and all the roads and I mean all of them, are badly, badly damaged. The beautiful, soulful, vibrant, historic city I remember is gone. Port-au-Prince was never the Paris of anything, but it had pizzazz, a certain je-ne-sais-quoi or life to it. Now, even that is gone. It saddens me what the country's own people did to it. I know the earthquake took its toll, but some damages were man-made. Certain things should have been preserved. Certain places, like Champs de Mars deserved to be protected but people were too busy being wrapped in their own personal tragedies to take pride in anything worth their pride.There are so many people in Port-au-Prince. Way more people than I remember seeing in the city. I have been told that while some of these people really did lose their homes to the earthquake, many of them left their homes in the countryside or even in the capital, with the promise of free housing. So now they live in tents all over the damn city; tents placed anywhere and everywhere! The whole damn city looks like a refugee camp. The ridiculous amount of people plus the fact that many of the designated market places were destroyed during the earthquake, has resulted in people selling all kinds of things all over the place. This, combined with all the damn UN trucks and SUVs running wild, makes the city feel like a freaking nightmare.


Going Home Again: Day One in Haiti

"A nice smile, does not mean we are friends."
I am in Haiti, first time in eight years. While I am glad to be home again and hang out with my cousins, this return to the roots is bittersweet in every way since I am here for my grandfather's funeral. So, not necessarily a fun trip. Everyone says things are greatly different but I cannot attest to that quite yet. Besides the change at the airport (getting off in an actual terminal rather than on the runway and then riding the bus to a warehouse because the actual terminal/airport is still badly damaged from the earthquake) and a few other damaged walls and buildings, the people look about the same. There's always a football match (soccer game) to be watched and people to watch it. Music videos and commercials are of much better quality than what I remember, although the videos are over U.S. American and not in a very good way. Also, when did the Bloods gang make its way to Haiti?! And what is up with the time difference? We're currently an hour behind the UTC-5:00 due to observing year-round standard time. Keeps throwing me off.
Structurally, I haven't seen much change, but that's probably because I haven't been to the heart of Port-au-Prince yet, just to the outskirts of the city. As the plane was descending I did see the damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral as well as the national palace and many many tents. I have been told that they have started demolishing the palace but I could not see that from the plane. I have also seen a great deal of foreigners (civil and military), a new (to me) U.S. embassy (though fortress/palace seems more appropriate), and way too many U.N. tanks, police cars (?) and compounds to count. I thought the U.N. was here to help out, on the sidelines, behind the scenes? There in-your-face nature seems more like a full-on occupation. How can a country ever learn to stand on its own two feet if it is continually invaded and occupied (U.S. in 1915-1934, again in 1994, and U.S./UN 2004-present)? I shall go into the heart of the city tomorrow (maybe). Until then, I'll be here in the hills, enjoying this absolutely glorious island breeze behind the (jail-like) safety of multiple iron gates.

Aside: After so many years in the U.S., it feels odd having people serve me again... makes me quite uncomfortable.

Airport Rant (Delayed Flight)

On Airport Security:

I feel like every time someone has to go through the horror that is airport security, Osama Bin Ladin is in a cave somewhere laughing his culo off. The terrorist act was not the bombing of the towers. No, it is the fact that we never got over it. It has been almost ten years now and we have gotten to the point where we are terrorizing 6 year-olds and fumbling men's junk. So, my question to you is this: Are we really safer now? Countless of Iraqi, American and Afghan lives later, do you feel any safer? Because going through airport security sure does not make me feel like we are winning Bush's war.

On Gas Prices:

I am personally offende whenever I have to fill up my tank. I mean, $3.89 per gallon? That's offensive. Most annoying of all, are all the other prices that go up because of gas prices, but will never again go down. My poor little Toyota which used to only cost $23 for a fill-up on a good day, now cost me a disgusting offensive $40+. And I know I have it really good compared to most people. But, jeez! I guess I could take up biking, but it is a mighty long way from my apartment to my parent's house (338 miles to be exact).

On Education Cuts:

I was utterly surprised a few weeks ago when I checked my financial aid award for next year. There was the usual: my Expected Financial Contribution was the same, the Cost of Attendance was as expected a whole lot more than the previous years. My financial aid award however had been slashed in half. And this is despite actually improving my grades and GPA significantly during the last two semesters. I gave the office of financial affairs a call, just to find out what I already knew. With budget cuts, the poor economy, there was no money to help students. With all the cuts, I wonder just how long before the government stops subsidizing education altogether. This is unfortunate because many people, including myself, are only able to afford a college education in great part due to the help from both the federal and state governments. Additionally, anyone who values democracy know the importante of an educated youth to the movement. But again, why would would anyone, in their right mind, not cut from education? It's such a waste of funds. China is going to own us in a few years anyway and no one likes an educated laborer.


Claude A. Rosier

I never thought my grandfather would die of natural causes. Apparently very few people did. As we called around to inform family and friends of his death, most people asked, “Who killed him,” rather than “how did he die.” I suppose I’m not surprised. Arrested in 1966 for his political views, my grandfather spent eleven years in prison, under both Papa Doc and Baby Doc. My mom was six years old when they took him away, my uncle Ilitch, a newborn. He was tortured and starved, but he lived to tell the world about it, publishing his memoir, Triangle de la Mort: Journal d’un Prisonnier Politique Haïtien 1966-1977, in 2003. Since his release, he has co-founded a non-profit organization for former political prisoners, friends and relatives of the disappeared, worked at L’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Haiti and tirelessly campaigned fought for human rights. This past January, upon the return of Baby Doc to Haiti, from exile, my grandfather and other former political prisoners officially pressed charges against the former dictator.
"The mistake of all dictators and apprentice dictators, despite the lessons of centuries of history, is their stubborn belief in violence as the best permanent solution to tame the masses.  If this were the case, Nero, Hitler, Mussolini, Duvalier, Prosper Avril, Cedras and all the others would have never known political failure. The masses, even those identified as backwards, can endure for a while the violence of others, but they always end up revolting and tearing to shreds the infernal machine that is dictatorship." - Claude Rosier

Ever since I could remember, everything I have done has been to please my grandfather. He was the one person in the world whom I loved without complexities and whose approval I always sought. He continuously encouraged me, giving me books, editing my poems and short stories, and fighting alongside me whenever I needed support. Although his death is a huge loss to our family, Haiti, and the global fight for human rights, I cannot say I am sad today. My grandfather did more in his lifetime for his fellow men and women then most people could ever do in several lifetimes. So no, I am not sad. Rather, I celebrate his life, his mission, and his legacy. I celebrate, for I know in my veins, flow the blood a hero. The many people he inspired will keep carry the torch. He will live through us, through me, through my life’s work and purpose. And as long as I live, I shall strive to make him proud.


Death of my Hero

"Je t'aime sans savoir comment, ni quand, ni d'ou.
Je t'aime directement sans problèmes ni orgueil. 
Je t'aime ainsi car je ne sais aimer autrement. "
- Pablo Neruda (Sonnet XVII)

Pictured above, Claude Rosier with my mother, long time before I was born. 

Rest in peace Claude Antoine Rosier,
1932 - 2011 
Beloved husband, father, and grandfather, 
Author, former political prisoner, and militant
My grandfather, mentor and hero.


Food for Thought: Riverbend

“We’ve learned that terrorism isn’t actually the act of creating terror. It isn’t the act of killing innocent people and frightening others… no, you see, that’s called a ‘liberation.’ […] The war on terror is a joke… Madrid was proof of that last week… Iraq is proof of that everyday. I hope someone feels safer, because we certainly don’t.” - Riverbend from Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq


Food for Thought: Tough Choices and Coin Tosses

“When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you, but because, in that brief moment with the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.”