Monday, December 17, 2007

2007 Recap.

This is new for me. I don't think i've ever really sat down and thought about a past year and written down reflections on it. Having a blog will do that to ya, i guess.

So much happened to me this year. Dizzying heights and depressing lows. Which is part of the reason that i constantly reject it when people say that i'm lucky. I'm no more lucky than anyone else. Just because i win stuff sometimes doesn't make me lucky. This year, as much as i've gotten some things that i wanted, i've also heartbreakingly lost other things that i wanted even more. Some of my musings from this year:

~You never realize how big this planet is until you spend 14 hours on a plane and have only flown 1/4 of the way around it. Wow.

~Japanese culture is the antithesis of American culture. While we both share a love of consumerism, our cultures are completely opposite in almost every other way. That surprised and delighted me. My trip to Japan opened me up in ways that i'm still learning about. After 7 months, I still think about that trip at least once a day.

~I ran a marathon!!! Never ever ever thought i would do that. ok i didn't run all the way and 5K ain't that damn far but still. my shins was hurting after like 5 minutes. But i finished. Van-glorious.

~In January, my children were not living with me. that seems so implausible now. I'm already so used to them being with me...i had hoped and dreamed back then that they'd be here now but i was so defeated by years of losing that i didn't really believe i'd ever win. This has taught me to never give up on what is important to me in life.

~I completed two semesters of college at New York University!!! This time last year, i was so terrified to go back to school after 13 years. I was worried that i wouldn't be smart enough, that the work would be too much for me...that i would drown....but so far, i made it! i love my school so much. i remember when i first moved to NYC area 12 years ago, i used to walk around NYU's campus wishing i went there...dying to see the inside of those buildings...to ride the elevator in the library...to get food in the student cafeteria. and now...i'm here. a student at one of the most respected universities in the world. sometimes i'll be talking to someone about being in school and its just all blah blah whatever. and then after a while they'll ask where i go to school. I say "NYU" and their whole face changes...they say wow! that's fantastic! look at you!! it always makes me feel good. Like i know what NYU means to me but i never cease to be amazed at how much it means to other people as well. another dream realized.

~Sometimes we meet people too soon. or at least i'd like to believe that. you see, to believe that would feed my delusion that the universe has somehow robbed me of the life i was supposed to have. that the universe dangled the ultimate carrot before me only to laugh and take it away. but deep down i know that is not true. i know that things happen when they are supposed to happen. what might be more true is that sometimes people are only meant to be in our lives for a short time. we meet them when we need them, and they need us...we learn all we can from each other, then we part. they have other things to do and focus on. my time is up. if that is the truth, then one year was certainly not enough time for me to accept it. Maybe next year...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Today, I wanted to quit.

Today, as i walked down the street after my final exam, crying in the rain, i wanted to quit. i wanted to quit school. i'm pretty sure i barely passed the final, i made a fool of myself in front of my professor and the class by crying through half the damn test...what kinda idiot cries during an exam? i know i'm not gonna quit but i wanted to. i'm just so tired. tired of studying and tired of writing what i don't want to write. it's gonna take me at least 4 years to graduate. i've only finished one year and i don't know if i can make it...maybe i should just quit before i waste any more money...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Visa, You're Not Slick.

Dear Visa,

I want to talk about our relationship. Yes, I know you hate that, but hear me out. We’ve been together for a long time, and for the most part, I’ve been happy with you. You’ve been there for me in the tough times when I really needed you. But this stunt you pulled last week is just unforgiveable. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about…sneaking in another $3000 on my card in December? Just in time for the Christmas shopping season? Oh did you think I wouldn’t notice? You just want me to live it up so you can charge me a higher monthly payment, don’t you? How underhanded! How opportunistic!

In the past, I’ve overspent. True. But I’ve changed. So I’m going to beat you at your own game. I’m not spending a dime of that. In fact, I should be thanking you because your little greedy trick will actually improve my credit rating by lowering my balance owed ratio. So there.

But I’m still disappointed in you. You could have called or written to tell me of your plans, but no. You went behind my back. You thought i was donut; you tried to glaze me. Now I know that you never cared for me at all.

Regretfully,
Damali

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Do as the Times New Romans Do.

type A
type b
from heaven to helvetica
the words fly thru me
to you
the words wrap and envelope
the words are my hands
they hug you
the bottom part of the g strokes your face
ever so gently
(don't make j jealous)
0 kisses you openly while p lies prone
c cradles you while you sleep s shaped
since i can't.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Confessions of a Full-Time, Single Mom

For the last 7 years, my sons have not lived with me....they lived with their father. i had them part-time, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing...at first. Ideally, i think it's great for boys to be able to live with their father. That's an important bond that needs to be nurtured. Not to say that girls don't need their dads...of course they do. But the father/son thing is different. I wish it could have worked out differently for my boys, but unfortunately, their father is not up to the task, in more ways than one.

So they're back with me after a loooooooong fight. 4 years long, to be exact. And its wonderful and beautiful and everything i knew it would be. Every night, I put them to sleep with jazz music from the radio...they love to help me cook and they don't complain too much (yet) when i tell them to help me clean up. I just got them some warm flannel sheets for their beds and they thank me every night when they snuggle in...if i look sad, they come right over to find out what's wrong (i usually just say i'm tired). They run to the door like sweet puppies, ears flopping, when i come home from work. Nothing erases a stressful commute quicker than two toothy grins and tight hugs...

But even with all that love, the single mom thing is definitely as challenging as i knew it would be. it's something i never wanted to be, especially since my mom was. but ok; i'm here. i'm doing it. there's so much logistical stuff to work out...keeping track of who needs what for school which day, making sure they make sure to lock doors, and turn out lights...everlasting laundry w/gobstoppers sometimes attached...whose socks are these? pick up your towel! i won't even mention mornings.

speaking of school, i got school still. two classes. most evenings after all the cooking and straigtening and logistic-ing, i don't feel like picking up a textbook. i was used to having that kinda time on the days they were not here. now they are always here. but that's ok cuz no matter what, i'm loving that. loving that.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

In Defense of "Kid Nation".

I've always had a love|hate relationship with reality shows. Mostly because i feel most of them are scripted and fake and have very little to do with actual reality. A few of the creativity based ones are ok like Project Runway and Top Chef. The contestants are actually learning valuable skills to help them succeed after the show is over. But shit like The Bachelor? or any show where men/women are competing to snag other men/women? ridiculous and a waste of television air time. Or even Big Brother/Real World type shit. Why should I care about their lives?

So here comes Kid Nation. The premise is hokey and contrived (40 kids live "alone" in a desert and join together to "re-build" a "ghost town" called Bonanza). I used so may quotations because 1, they are not alone...there are plenty of adults around off-camera; and 2, the town is a just a set. But forget all that; these are real kids. With real emotions. And real talents/skills. They range in age from 8 to 16. And yes, they are getting a stipend to participate in the show (5 grand) but that doesn't change the fact that they are leaving their families behind for 40 days. some of these kids had never been away from home before (and they have the option to go home at any time) They have to cook, clean, manage a store, govern/lead each other, entertain each other...Shit is real for them.

Even before the show started airing, media and parents were screaming "EXPLOITATION!!!". Please. There is absolutely nothing exploitative about this show. I watch it with my children every week and they get so much out of it. it has given them an entirely different attitude towards work, it creates many teaching moments about teamwork, tolerance. they adore those kids.

yes the kids are getting paid...so what? do you think that children who are actors are being exploited? and what's even more interesting about some people's complaints is that they wish the kids actually were completely on their own with no adult supervision at all!!! THAT would exploitative. you basically want to tune in each week to see a bunch of kids kill each other and starve to death? They are in a controlled environment, forming bonds, learning the value of hard work, learning important lessons about leadership and personal responsibility. all of those things will impact them far more than a couple of rootbeer shots for the camera.

as pampered, lazy, fat and apathetic as American children are these days, i can't believe that so many people are hissy fitting about 40 kids leaving their televisions, imacs, ipods and nannies behind for a month. These children are NOT being abused. There are plenty of adults there, they are just off camera. There is an entire camera crew, a medical staff, counsellors etc. For anyone to assume otherwise is just pure ignorance.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Marius on Sax

video

He's only been playing for a month and he's absorbing it like a sponge. He's really good at reading music and his neck muscles are slowly adapting to the weight of the saxophone. I am so extremely proud of him...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ye-Yo

it's hard as hell to find a full-on photo of him smiling without any sunglasses on. even tho this is fake and posed, it's lovely.

But before i talk about Ye Ye, i had a neat dinner tonite. Ants on a Log. (don't even know why i want to write about this but fukk it, i'm writing) so yeah, Ants on a Log. Celery with peanut butter and raisins on top. Visualize it. I feel satiated, i've got my fiber and protein. yeah.

back to KanYe ...i hate that mid-capitalization crap, but i like him. alot. don't kill me anyone but right now, he's my favorite rapper. not just cuz of his rhymes (although that's like 68.3% of why), but cuz of who he is. i like his tantrums. i like his bragging. i like his beatmaking. i like his swagger. i like the way he dresses. i like that he ain't trying to be like everybody else in all the above-mentioned ways. he's claimed his own brand of masculinity that alot of rap dudes hate. he's emotional and not afraid to show it. to me, men like that are MORE manly than the ones who think being hard is all that matters....or those that think that any emotions they show make them weak.

on Graduation: excellent.

GOOD MORNING....as far as intros go, it's long but it starts the album off nicely. the drums sound like they are far away. like he's in another room. oooh! speaking of this, my favorite Bjork moment ever on record/cd is during There's More to Life Than This. she recorded the song in this milk factory and at some point, you HEAR her leave the room where the track is playing, slam the door and keep singing with the music track faintly in the background. just the fucking coolest shit i've ever heard. amazing. almost scary. like she came closer to you. (right now, if K-Ye was reading this, he'd be throwing a tantrum cuz i segued away from talking about him)

CHAMPION...this is my driving down the street with the windows down on a sunny day shouting out loud jaaamm!!! the beat bounces and you can't help but follow along. folks complain that the chorus is corny, but i like it (which could cement certain theories that KW makes music for the ladies) i love the stories he tells in it. about his dad making sure his family was fed and making sure he had new clothes for school. my favorite line: "Many feel like living is way harder than dying...for me, giving up is way harder than tryin'". fuckin' awesome. i think about that line alot.

STRONGER...love the lyrics but the Daft Punk sounds takes a bit getting used to. it's ok but honestly, i skip it alot. winning line: "you know how long i been on ya? Since Prince was on Appolonia."

I WONDER...i skip this one right away. ok the sample and the music are dope but his cadence annoys the hell outta me.

GOOD LIFE...another banger. It took me a minute to realize he sampled PYT. triple word score for that, Kan Kan.

CAN'T TELL ME NOTHIN...he's very introspective in this one...admits to being a loose cannon at times....he knows that having money don't necessarily make you a better person or make you choose the right path. shit, it often makes shit worse. the beat is ok. it feels a little boring to me

BARRY BONDS...my favorite cut on the album. a serious head-knocking beat. i be making faces like i smelled something nasty cuz the beat is that sick. i love when he says DUUUUUUDE! his rhymes are quite good on this. my favorite: "they say i'm going crazy and we seen this before, but i'm doing pretty good as far as geniuses go." but but but then at some point, Lil Wayne comes on *next track*

DRUNK AND HOT GIRLS....the beat is dope. it actually reminds me of one of the cuts on Stankonia. I wanted so badly to hear 3000 jump on this joint and really tell us wassup. But all we got is YeBaby and Mos being cute and funny. I did laugh on the first listen but i skip it now.

FLASHING LIGHTS....beautiful track. it drops in 3 phases. i could just listen to the first 40 seconds in perpetuity. the lyrics are ok.

EVERYTHING I AM...Primo. yes! i want this instrumental. that doesn't mean that i don't love Yeezy's lyrics cuz i do. (oh my god the scratching..oh my oh my) my favorite line: "people talk so much shit about me at barbershops, they forget to get they haircut". i laugh at that every time i hear it cuz it makes me think of J at the barbershop for some reason. I could just see him getting into some deep convo about Kanye then he be like "ok bye" at the end...lol no haircut.

THE GLORY...aNOTHer banger. amazing sample. makes you wanna go to church and catch the holy ghost (ok not really but yeah). altho i don't understand quite how Dwayne Wayne became Dwayne Wade...Ye-yo don't have to make sense all the time, i guess...tee hee

HOMECOMING...ok i don't like this one very much. i think its cuz its too much like the I Used to Love H.E.R. format, which i'm sure was purposeful but it's poorly done. *next track*

BIG BROTHER...love love love love this. a perfect way to close the album. similar to what 3000 did at the end of (can't think of the album right now..J don't kill me) but he told the story about him and Erykah and other stuff...Mr West got real personal about his relationship with Jay-Z. so introspective and emotional. i could feel how much he admires him and wants his approval. my respect level for Ye rose by leaps and bounds. Favorite line: "if you admire somebody, you should go head tell em, people never get the flowers while they can still smell em". Wow.

and for the record, if i may do some Kanye-type self congratulation, I typed each track name from memory. i didn't look them up. that's how many times i've listened to this shit.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Not Your Average Girl.

I'm a sports fan. More specifically, I'm a football fan. Even more specifically, I'm a Philadelphia Eagles fan. But I can watch and enjoy almost any sport except for ice hockey and boxing.

In the last 4 years, i've sort of become a baseball fan. More specifically a NY Mets fan. Having two New York teams to pick from, I've sided with the Mets for two main reasons:

1. They're the underdogs. It's all about the pinstripes here. The Yankees are the top dog franchise in NY. They've got Derek Jeter and one of the most outspoken owners ever. They've been immortalized on Seinfeld, the quintessential NY tv show. Has a TV show ever embraced the Mets? I don't know. but whatever; I do. I have a soft spot for underdogs.

2. Their stadium is cheaper. I can afford field seats at Shea Stadium ($35 at certain low-tier games). i might even catch a foul ball or two. At Yankee Stadium, the same seat would be $95.

But right now, the Yankees are in the playoffs. I'm routing for them. But not because i really care if they win...i actually wish they would not. They've won enough. but i want them to win because their poor manager's job is at stake. George Steinbrenner has cruelly taunted poor Joe Torre in the media by telling anyone who'll listen (and has a microphone handy) that if the Yankees don't make it past this first round in the playoffs, Joe Torre will lose his job. Now ever time they show poor Joe Torre's face during the game, i just wanna hug him.

So i'll route for the Yankees. For now. So that poor man can keep his job.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Momma


DSC01758.JPG, originally uploaded by damali101.

She's 57 now. I took this photo on her birthday a few weeks ago. In my opinion (and hers) it's the prettiest photo of her i've ever seen.

When i look at it, i notice mostly her eyes...that they look sort of Asian, almost. They are a completely different shape than mine are. more almond-ish.

She's 57 now. Young by some standards, old by others. She's relatively healthy but i can't help but worry what it's gonna be like when she's not. My sister lives far away so it would be down to me to take care of her. And as stubborn as she is, momma's gonna be the worst patient ever. She's not really going to want help or she will complain..i know her.

But no matter. I will do it. For her but also for me. and for my sons. because one day they will have to do the same for me so i want to show them how to be nice to an old momma.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jena 6 & Myanmar: The Results

Two protests, two different outcomes. But i think both were predictable.

I'm very happy that Mychal Bell was released this week and hopefully it means he will get a fair trial here on out (doubt it, tho). But i'm sad that the brave folks in Myanmar are being forced to pay the ultimate price for their potential freedom. Sadly, their deliverance may not come any other way.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Power of Protest



There are many who argue that protesting is a useless tool when seeking change in America. The impact of the recent Jena 6 protests remains to be seen but there is no doubt that the events in Myanmar today will have far reaching effects.

The sight of those monks lined up to lead the rally against the inhumane practices of their militaristic government fills my soul with hope. This is a beacon to the world. It also gives me a deeper appreciation for modern technology because less than a generation ago, seeing this powerful photograph might not have even been possible.

To fully grasp the weight of this event, imagine if North Koreans were able to stand up to Kim Jong Il in this way. In fact, (so far) the only tragedy in this is that the North Koreans are completely unaware of what is going on. Kim Jong would never allow something as powerful and potentially galvanizing as this to reach their eyes and ears.

Right now, the world is waiting for the government of Myanmar's response to this "embarassment". I hope and pray that it's not too harsh on the people there. My thoughts are with them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tell Em, Lauryn

They won't hear you, though.

Ex-Factor.

It could all be so simple
But you'd rather make it hard
Loving you is like a battle
And we both end up with scars
Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will

Is this just a silly game
That forces you to act this way
Forces you to scream my name
Then pretend that you can't stay
Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will

[Hook:]No matter how I think we grow
You always seem to let me know
It ain't workin'It ain't workin'
And when I try to walk away
You'd hurt yourself to make me stay
This is crazy
This is crazy

I keep letting you back in
How can I explain myself
As painful as this thing has been
I just can't be with no one else
See I know what we got to do
You let go and I'll let go too
'Cause no one's hurt me more than you
And no one ever will

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Universe Validated Me.

I was watching a program this evening, and out of nowhere, two of the characters had the following dialogue:

Sonny: It's not gonna be easy.

Kate: Nothing in life worth having ever is...

I was like wtf?!?! WHAT I TELL Y'ALL!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nothing Worth Having is Easy.

That's been my mantra for the last 2 and a half years. In some ways, I think that phrase is the true meaning of life. That we have to work hard for the things that we want. That as soon as we look for the easy way, we've already lost. Victory is in the challenge; the journey.

But sadly, i've realized that most people are fucking cowards.

Friday, September 07, 2007

July 12th 2004 - Madison Square Garden

It's hard to find words to describe what this night meant to me. I was in the front row w/Mr. Walt from the Beatminerz. We were minding our own business, dancing and jamming, when P comes over to our side of the stage and politely asks if anyone would possibly like to dance with him. Of course, I curtsied and offered my assistance. He accepted.

The rest is her-story.


Part 1



Part 2

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My New Favorite Vacation Spot



other photos.

gotta pack to catch a plane to London tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A World Apart

The children on the left are both 10 years old. The children on the right are 11 and 9. The children on the left live in a one-room shack without running water or concrete floors. The children on the right live in a 3-bedroom apartment with a shower and wall-to-wall carpeting. The children on the left sleep on the floor at home. The children on the right have bunkbeds from Ikea w/fluffy pillows and crisp sheets. The children on the left will go home to extreme poverty, disease and destitution. The children on the right will go home to a refrigerator full of food, a color television with digital cable and health insurance. The children on the left are South African. The children on the right are American.

But they all have the same light in their eyes. The all have the same love of green grass and sunshine. They all intensely love McDonald's french fries. They all are intelligent, compassionate and loving.

Busisiwe (front) and Memory came to visit the United States for the first time in their lives....but just for the summer. They boarded a plane and crossed the ocean for hours upon hours alone. They'd never left their town before. They'd never left their family before. They'd never left their country before. I can't imagine how they felt, as children, landing and hearing the captain bellow "Welcome to New York". Were their tiny hearts bursting with joy? Were they afraid? Did they cling to each other and speak in their native tongue of all they would see and do?

But more than that, I wonder how they felt when they went home. America behind them; South Africa ahead. They've seen potential. They've seen leisure. They've seen privilege. Busisiwe stayed in Brooklyn with a wonderful host mother. She slept in a Bed for the first time in her life. She had her own room with a nightlite and a poster of Beyonce over the bed. She ate hotdogs and potato chips. She went to museums. She danced to music from the radio. She went to the cinema. She looked up at tall buildings touching the sky. She wore slippers and robes.

Tonight Busisiwe sleeps on the floor again next to her grandmother's bed. Who is she now? Is she the girl who cries all the time for all that her life is not? Or is she the girl who smiles to herself all the time, knowing...now FINALLY knowing, what her life can be?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Then and Now.

When those 3 unknown kids signed on to do the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, they probably had no idea what they were getting into...that this film would change their lives forever...that children (and adults!) all over the world would "worship" them...
And now they are super-rich teenagers plugged into a literary and film phenomenon so colossal that they can easily retire from the business and never have to work again, should they choose.

I know alot of people (read:adults) avoid reading the Harry Potter series. Some because it's just too popular or too "kiddy". But as an avid fan of the series, I can tell you that the books are some of the finest ever written in the fantasy fiction genre. They grab you from the first page and keep you guessing until the very end. The multitude of characters are fully fleshed out and attach themselves to your psyche. They also contain more "adult" storylines than you can imagine. Remember, children live in an adult world, and in J.K. Rowling's brilliant universe, they are frequently confronted with adult quagmires.

As the series progresses, the "children" grow up. By book 5, they are teenagers fighting along side the adult wizards against evil forces and magic that surely seek to destroy them. The wizarding world they live in is so fantastically imagined by Rowling. No detail is left undescribed. And it also mirrors the real world...containing frequent allegorical tales of politicians and governments gone bad. There are also tales of love and loss, of triumph and tragedy...They are the kind of books that when you read them, you think about them for weeks afterwards. This is no small feat.

I will definitely be going to see the 5th film this week. I try not get frustrated by the fact that due to the number of pages of the 5th book, Order of the Phoenix, the movie will undoubtedly have to skip over alot of material in order to tell the story in just under two hours. But no matter...just being able to see that fantastical world brought to life on film is satisfying enough.

Confessions of a Broke Apple Junkie.

In my fantasies, I own an iPhone. Steve Jobs calls me personally on it and tells me how i will get free upgrades for life just because i'm such a loyal customer. Commuters ooh and ahhh on the train as i brazenly play with it's touchscreen.

In real life, I look at photos of celebrities holding it. I salivate while watching news reports on it. I smile inside at the
marketing genius of Apple Inc.

You see, I am what is sometimes called an Apple Geek. People like us take brand loyalty to a new level. People like me (with money) wait outside Apple stores for 2 days when new products launch. I wanted to go hang out just for the experience of it. I'm sure the Apple store at 5th Avenue & 59th St in Manhattan looked like Woodstock until the iPhone went on sale. The first geek in line who bought the iPhone was probably an instant hero who emerged victoriously clutching his booty and encountered shouts and tears and cries of joy. That may have even been the crowning achievement of his lonely, sheltered life. Who knows..

All i know is I cherish my Powerbook and my Ipod. The rest, I watch humbly and jealously from the sidelines.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Today Is Where My Book Begins.



This is a verse from my favorite song (right now): Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. It inspires me to write and today, I have begun. I'm writing a short fictional story called Furlough and I might post some of it here soon. We'll see.

Now if she'd only write a song called Unpacking, i might actually get it done.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Thirty-Six.

When I was a child, I used to be so super-excited about my birthday. For the entire month of June, it was all i could talk about or think about. I would tell EVERYONE that it was coming up. The night of June 30, i could barely sleep. It was my day tomorrow: me. mine. Everyone was gonna celebrate the fact that i was born and give me hugs and toothy smiles and presents. I wondered what kind of birthday cake I'd have or if someone was going to surprise me. I'd get witty cards with money taped inside that corresponded w/my age. It was better than Christmas. I'd even pull out of my drawer my special "Today is my birthday" pin and wear it all day just in case i'd missed telling anyone.

As I grew into an adult, my expectations for my birthday were forced to change. I would still be very excited about it but you slowly realize that others often are not. Or I'm often not sure of how I should try to celebrate it. Once i threw a party for myself and invited a bunch of people and only 2 or 3 showed. That was such a letdown that i never attempted that again. And i don't have the type of friends that throw surprise parties. So no more parties. You're not a child anymore so no one's got a cake waiting for you. I usually ended up buying my own cake since the kids wanted to see me blow out candles. Presents are also few and far between, unless you have a significant other.

But it's ok. I've learned to adjust. On Sunday i didn't do anything that i *really* wanted to do but it was an ok day. I relaxed, which is always good, and I did what I always do: made sure everyone else was happy and having a good time. The kids played in the park and mom sat in her favorite chair in the grass. I did get alot of calls from friends and family, which definitely makes one feel good inside. Lots of people told me they loved me (except the one i really wanted to) so i do understand that at this point in my life, it's more about celebrating life...I don't have to have the cake and parties and surprises. Next year, I may actually just decide to spend my birthday alone.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Station Break.

Please excuse the bad lighting and sound. I'm new at this videoblogging stuff. I'm just trying to be like Miss Princess.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

There's Gonna Be a Riot If You Don't Clap Your Hands.


On Thurs, June 21st I "ran" my first "marathon": The JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. To clarify, I walked most of the way (jogged a little bit) AND it was only 3.5 miles but hey, i'd never done anything like this before...it was a huge accomplishment for me. I was so nervous and worried that i'd fall out halfway thru the race. (It was actually a real race; i simply did not want to come in last).
The race was in Central Park and the proceeds were to benefit the Central Park Conservancy. Each company that entered participants had tents and tables sent up for pre- and post-race activities. Walking around the tent area actually kinda felt like being at a huge family reunion. Except there were thousands of people milling around. In fact, the NYC race was such a huge success that it had to be split into 2 days in order to accommodate the over 30,000 participants that signed up.
The real runners were in front, and by the time i took this photo, they'd probably already finished. I remember at one point, i was walking along chatting with my coworkers and I thought about how it felt like we were on a march. It seemed like we should have had signs and banners...
When i passed this 3-mile marker, I was SO excited...i finished the race about 8 minutes later. My official time was 1:10:10. I ran across the finish line with my arms in the air ...i had sore calves and achy Achilles tendons but I felt amazing. I now understood why some people enter every marathon that they can. For me personally, I've often had a terrible track record of not finishing what i started but that night, i finished.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Randomonstrosity-nous-ness.

-I tend to completely ignore flat shoes. Other than flip flops, it never occurs to me to wear them. I see other women wearing them and they all look nice, but i've somehow convinced myself that the arch in my foot is too high to comfortably tolerate them. I must be wearing some sort of incline/heel. Mind you, no doctor has ever informed me of this. I just happen to subscribe to the same sort of intuitive pseudo-self-diagnosis that all intelligent + thinking people cling to. We just know.

-I've recently come to not one, but two startling realizations about myself. These now completely undermine my previous assertions that i'm above petty predjudices and that i love all people. I still do love 87% of all people, of course, but i've shamefully uncovered two exceptions: Obese people and beautiful little girls. The former predjudice is, sadly, understable and acceptable to most people. The latter probably appears bizarre and random but i will explain in a minute.

The obese: They completely annoy and disgust me. Now I'm not proud of this nor do i think it's right. I'm one of the biggest advocatesI know of when it comes to wanting people to respect each other, be compassionate and tolerant, etc. But when i'm on a train going to work and i can't sit in a seat because some person is occupying 1 1/2 times their allotted space, i'm annoyed. When i see an obese person walking and 2/3 of their body, not including their arms and legs, are moving in all different directions, i'm disgusted. It's so difficult for me to not make a frown...i probably do sometimes without even knowing it. I make up for this (or i think i do) by smiling at the person, oftentimes. I'm aware that they are probably in some sort of emotional pain that causes them to overeat or they simply don't know how to properly eat (or don't care?). But i can't control my inner reaction to it. It even makes me question their intelligence. I seriously wonder if i'd have a problem hiring someone who is obese. Of course I'd tell myself that they just happened to not be as qualified as XYZ Regular Body, but how would i know if deep down, my predjudice wasn't winning? (man, someone could easily take those last few sentences, replace the word obese with Black, and i'd be ready to vomit)

Beautiful little girls: ok this is actually kind of random and might not be a real "predjudice" per se. But i was surprised by my own reaction. Anyway i was on a train platform (in NYC 80% of interesting things happen on train platforms) and this woman comes up the stairs with her two children (they looked like her so i'm assuming they were hers). The woman was very short. She looked black but mixed with some other race maybe. dark skin. She had really long straight/wavy hair that flowed down her back so beautifully. Maybe already i was kinda jealous of her hair. Which is ridic cuz my hair is so dope right now. But this scenario always takes me back to my childhood when i hated my hair, so keep in mind that as i'm standing there evaluating them, i'm suddenly 8 years old again.. anyway...she's got this great hair, ok face. kinda weird chin/jaw...sorta elf-like. One of her daughters looked like a teenager. same complexion as "mom" but with way too much jel in her long-ish hair. same elf-life facial structure.

The other daugther was the "beauty". Light skin, cute, cheruby face with that long frizzy/curly hair that so many black boys adore. It was all the way down her back...in grade school, girls like her got all the attention from the boys. Which always, indirectly, made me feel ugly, jealous and inferior. The girl is standing on the platform, very close to and clinging to her mother...who happens to be constantly playing in the girl's hair. The girl is expressionless...not smiling at all. Which i found strange. Pretty little girls usually always smile, don't they? At least in my 8-year old delusions they did. So the train comes and we all pile on. They were standing a ways away from me but i couldn't help but sorta stare. they didn't notice at all so i was in the clear. The girl was so pretty that it was difficult not to keep stealing glances. But still no smiles. Then at one point, her mother whispers something in her ear and the girl laughs. Then i saw it. She had a TREMENDOUS overbite. Her smile changed the entire picture of her face, as if someone had lifted a veil. And shockingly, instead of feeling pity for her apparent "spoiled beauty", the 8-year-old girl within me felt relieved.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I Need a Distraction.

I'm trying to do work, but i can't. I can feel this bubble of anxiety growing at the bottom of my stomach. I'm doing my best to hold it back.

I haven't spoken to my children at all since Thursday. I've called and called and called their father's house all weekend and no one answers. I've called at least 10 times this morning. My son Milan has a cellphone that I bought for him, but it goes straight to voicemail. Which isn't unusual because he never turns it on. Even though i constantly admonish him to keep it on so that i can reach them.

Right now, i feel a mixture of fear, anger and sadness. The fear is probably the least. I'm sure they are ok. That's just some back-of-the-mind type shit. I'd say the anger is most prominent. I kinda feel angry at all of them. Angry at their father because he doesn't care at all if i speak to the children and most likely, directly or indirectly, prevents it. He enjoys torturing me in this way. He may have even sent them away to their grandma's without even telling me. Angry at the kids because maybe they have not tried to call me themselves. Or even thought of it. Or didn't try hard enough. Or didn't sneak to call when their dad wasn't in the room. I know it's wrong to be angry at them but emotions are that way; sometimes they are irrational but we feel them anyway.

I feel sad because Friday was the last day of school and they got their report cards. I have no idea what grades they got. I was looking forward to hearing their excited voices on the phone...proclaiming the start of their long-awaited summer...recounting tales of last-day-of-school class parties...lamenting their "just shy of an A" B- in Science class.

Tomorrow i'm supposed to pick them up. But i'm so worried he's going to call at some point and say "oh i forgot to tell you, they're out of town for the week". And there will be nothing at all that I can do.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

.Misunderstood.


lonely ball, originally uploaded by Tijs van Bragt.

have you ever wished you could erase everyone's memory of you? that you could reset the way they see you and what they think of you? start fresh.

i want that thing that the Men In Black used. flash a light and they all forget. when they come to, they have shiny new eyes. they see someone strong and sensible and smart standing before them. they don't know you're lost. they don't see your scrambled brains. they see someone wise and someone who knows what is right for themselves. they see someone they want to be around. they understand you.

and then you have a chance to do things right. you have a chance to be coherent. you have a chance to start out on their page instead of in the footnotes. you have a chance to pretend your mistakes didn't happen.

but none of that exists. i'm stuck with the mess. and the mess drives people away.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

He's Away.


First born, originally uploaded by damali101.

For the whole week. His first trip away from home without his family. I dropped him off on Sunday morning at the school. I don't think i was as nervous as some of the other parents. I fussed over him a little but only because he had forgotten to put on deodorant, so i made him go in the bathroom, rectify that situation and change the funky t-shirt.

It was hard to leave though. I realized it was time to go when i was just standing around, doing nothing and having that "should we leave?" conversation with other parents. Some parents just sat out in the car...probably until the tour bus pulled off. But i didn't want to do that. I felt it was best to leave him to his business.

I'm pretty certain that he slept for most of the 4+ hour ride to D.C. And i know how much he loves hotels and restaurants...no doubt he's happy. But i miss him. I've received the uber-brief, nightly phone call, mainly consisting of his assurance that he's o-k, even though I don't ask that question. But he knows how parents think. Already; at 11.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Japan Day @ Central Park


Reason #4,080 why New York is the greatest city in the world...Japan Day festival!

I was so excited to read about this in Time Out New York and it did not disappoint. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. There was an entire day planned with stage performances, karaoke contest, anime costume contest and karate demonstrations. There were also stations all around the perimeter. Robots and video games. Calligraphy. Toys, and food.

The kids and i got in a really long line for some gyo-za (dumplings) and by the time we got to the front, we realized that the food was free. FREE?!?! I couldn't believe it. There were four different food stations with dumplings, noodles, sushi, and curry...even free green tea.

I was so proud of my boys for trying all the different foods and honing their chopstick skills. It's important to me that they experience lots of different cultures. Also taking them to this festival was a small way for me to make it up to them for not being able to take them to Japan. I didn't say that to them, but they probably knew it anyway. I'm really glad I got to share it all with them.

You can see the rest of my photos here on flickr.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Robin Thicke Can't Sing Live


Robin Thicke @ Yahoo! Music 1, originally uploaded by emayoh.

It's really sad. tragic even. His voice sounds amazing on his album but when he performs, i'm like ew. voice coach, stat.

BUT.

he writes great song lyrics...

I wish I could change
I wish I could change
I wish I could stop
Sayin the same old things
I wish I could be
Who u want me 2 be
I wish I could stop
Being the same old me
I wish I could lose
All of my blues
I wish I could stop
Puttin my blues on u
I wish I could love
Like nobody loves
I wish that my goods
Outweighed my bads enough

You know its killin me
Baby how can I let u go
Suddenly theres nothing I need more

*sigh*...

Monday, May 28, 2007

This Belongs here.

Probably more than anything else i've ever written about. This kid lives a pop lock life in Nagoya, Japan. Every night, he and his friends hang out in front of an office building and just dance. all night. dancing. he seemed like he was adding on a little extra for my camera, though...




Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Say Yes to Life



For the second time, I'm attempting to read James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room. It's a part of my new Summer Reading Initiative, which is simply me attempting to pay some more-than-cursory attention to the the books that i own that i haven't read. My Amazon wish list/cup runneth over with prospective purchases, but to indulge would be unfair to my current progeny. (i doubt they really care)

so i chose Baldwin. why? twofold. start small. only a couple hundred pages long. secondly, it's literature in the truest sense of the word. a book that you don't just read, but you languish in it. you get a lawn chair and lie between the middle pages...just waiting for the tide of joy and understanding to eclipse you. each page is a delicacy.

a tiny morsel:
"But people can't, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life."

it always amazes me how the most important concepts come in the most simple packages. say yes to life. how easy it is to overlook something so seemingly mundane. But those four little words represent an abyss that most people are not equipped to peer into.

that leads me to the question: How do we instill this in our children? How do we teach them to 'say yes to life'? if there was ever a parenting goal to have, that would be it for me. I want them to be men who aren't afraid of a challenge or of the unknown. I want them to have the courage to take the calculable risk and every now and then, the perceived "foolish" one. how could they learn otherwise?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Finito.

I don't feel like writing about Japan anymore. Here are the rest of the photos I took w/stories and descriptions:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/damali/sets/72157600136818833/detail/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/damali/sets/72157600166639975/detail/

i also have a bunch of videos on youtube under my screenname damali. just do a search and you'll find them

Monday, May 14, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

Most people who know me know that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. So imagine my sheer joy upon finding out that Yumi arranged for us to have complimentary breakfast buffet at the hotel for each day of our trip! We had to be down to breakfast by 7am since our tour day was starting promptly at 8:00. The layout was amazing. I didn't get a photo of it because i needed two hands to carry my tray and food and drinks etc. plus i would have felt really weird trying to photograph the food while people were trying to serve themselves, etc.
everything was represented though...Western foods as well as Japanese foods. there was orange, apple and grapefruit juice, scrambled eggs, waffles, bacon (not crispy tho..yuck) sausages, hash browns, miso soup, smoked salmon & mackerel, fresh fruit, garden salad, fresh pastries, yogurt, cereal, hard boiled eggs, broccoli and a bunch of other vegetables and Japanese dishes that i didn't recognize. just amazing. all for 1900 yen. which was approximately $15. i was in heaven. cuz we certainly were not about to pay 1900 precious yen to buy that buffet every morning on our own.
when we were done, a big brown tour bus waited for us outside. we were scheduled to see 3 temples in the morning, break for lunch, then see 3 more temples in the afternoon. then go back to the hotel, get changed quickly and be ready for our geisha entertainment dinner. hectic, man.

We left our hotel then picked up a bunch of other people at other hotels until the bus was full. Our tour guide gave us an oral history of Kyoto while we rode to our first destination...i was barely listening to her cuz i was too busy looking out the window. the city was so fascinating. the streets were incredibly clean..no litter anywhere. in fact, it was even hard to spot trashcans on the streets. also it was quiet...no car horns blaring at each other...folks ride their bikes on the sidewalks, sometimes in the bike lane and sometimes not. people don't jaywalk. even if there are no cars coming, 99% of them wait until the get the WALK signal before crossing. and the cars ...they were so incredibly tiny and odd-looking.

but the most striking thing about Kyoto was how you would see regular buildings and houses with huge temples sandwiched between them...it was obvious that the city of Kyoto was literally built AROUND it's historic temples. speaking of which...our first stop was Nijo castle.


Walking through the gate of such a place...the type of place that i'd only seen on tv or in kung-fu movies...it was really surreal. As we entered, we were told to remove our shoes and that we were not allowed to take any photographs. the tour guide also explained that this was the home of the shogunate back in the 17th century. as we walked through the long, sunlit hallways of the castle we all heard this faint chirping sound coming from underneath the floorboards...it wasn't squeaking; it was chirping. we were told that one of the things the Shogun did to protect himself and his family from attacking ninjas seeking to overthrow his empire was to install 'nightingale' floors. the floors had these metal contraptions built underneath that would immediately betray any unwanted visitors. once we were all outside again, we attempted to investigate...you really couldn't see much of it from the outside...you would have to crawl all the way under the deck and peer into that dark grating. not many adults were able to successfully get down under there. or they didn't want to try. I was one of them...knees getting too old for that!


the guy on the left was our "paparazzi", Lee. He was hired to take photos of us during our entire trip. it was fun stealing photos of him cuz he hid from my camera alot. the other guy was taking a break from his sweeping duties....maybe to watch the funny looking black people?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Robes, Son!

Water, snacks and a white-gloved driver greeted us as we loaded into the van for the long drive to Kyoto. I fought off sleep as hard as I could...i was like a little kid that didn't want to miss a moment of her favorite program that doesn't come on until midnight. But the seduction of sleep was too overwhelming...i succumbed after only seeing 10 minutes or so of Osaka at night. The adrenaline rush returned once we disembarked at our hotel, Kyoto Tokyu.



I suddenly felt wide awake again. The hotel was beautiful and classy and everyone greeted us with deep bows and smiling faces...irrashaimashite! they said, sincerely. (welcome, in English). Since i didn't know how to bow properly, i just did my head nod thing said 'arigato' (thank you) profusely.

Meanwhile, Yumi bounced over to the front desk, got us checked in and instructed the bellman where to take our luggage. The rooms were beautiful...simple and elegant. Plush robes and slippers awaited us, as well as soft earth tones of beige, brown and tan. The far window had a sliding, rice paper shade...we all ran back and forth between rooms to check if they were the same...i had to take a photo of this one funny sign in the bathroom tho...


After we got settled in, 3 of us decided to take a short walk outside just to see what was around. (Stef stayed behind cuz she was too tired) It was dark and late and we were hungry so we ended up at the Royal Host restaurant across the street. Royal Host was pretty much like an IHOP type of place..real low key with soft booths. it kinda felt like home. The most appealing about it was the HUGE photos of desserts all over the walls, parfaits, sundaes, cakes, tarts...we were like YEAH! so anyway, we walk up in there and hold up 3 fingers to the hostess who quickly ran (i mean really ran) over to greet us.

The place was full of young people and they all turned to look at us 3 black women walking up in there...it was weird.
so we sit down and look at our menus with superhuge pictures and no descriptions that we could understand. i guess the waitress saw as all confused and ran over again with the two words that would save us multiple times on this trip:

"English menu?"


"Hai!" we yelled back.


so after going over all the menu items, which ran the gamut from steaks to bowls of noodles to sausages, we settled on tacos and dessert. yeah i was kinda ashamed that my very first meal in Japan was tacos...good lord. but they were good as hell...perfectly crunchy shell, great fillings....but my favorite thing about Royal Host: no tipping! in fact, that's everywhere in Japan. you don't tip anyone ever. They don't need that incentive in order to do a good job for you. They have such pride in their work and such a high work ethic that i was truly inspired...


As we left the restaurant, i got a chance to show off another phrase that i'd learned:


Gochiso sama deshita! (it was a real feast)


ok it wasn't a real feast but the hostess was surprised and appreciated my compliment. or she was just being appropriately polite and was thinking that i was a stupid, wretched gaijin who needs to go the hell home. I guess i'll never know.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

On Seeing Japan for the First Time





When we broke thru the clouds after 14 hours, my heart was beating so fast. Queena and I kept saying to each other "oh my god! We're actually going to Japan!"... i mean there it was right outside the window. it was real. a real place. not just on the news or in a magazine. or a sweepstakes. or an idea. or an itinerary. or a map. it was FOR REAL. Just thinking of how as little girls, we would sometimes drink sugar water and pretend it was juice or soda or something else we couldn't afford...and now we're on a plane to Japan, a place that most people in world never get to visit.

If i ever make an album it's gonna be called "From Sugar Water to Sake"


ok so anyway, we're standing around clueless in a foreign country, signs everywhere that we couldn't read. of course some were in English but still..."Follow the crowd" was my advice, so we did. Immigration was easy...there weren't many foreigners on the flight so our lines were short. We got our bags then made our way to the main area to look for a guy holding a sign with my name on it. As we were coming down the elevator, we spotted our driver. My heart lept when i saw my name on the card...as i got closer, i noticed it said "Veronico"...we all busted out laughing. Close enough, i guess.



the airport looked more like a shopping mall. it was NOT CUTE. all one floor and long as hell



Our van driver (who was wearing a suit, hat and white gloves!) held our bags while we exchanged our money. In Japan, you can't just walk up to the window, hand over your money and get yen. First you gotta fill out this form. Name, amount of money, where you're staying, the phone number...i was like damn! then after that, you take your money and form to the counter and they do the do. PLUS you don't just hand people money hand-to-hand...there's always a shallow tray (this is at all stores in Japan) ...you put the money in the tray, they take it, then put your change in the tray. I had a hard time remembering this teeny piece of etiquette throughout the trip. (among a couple others)

So after we got our money, we met up with Yumi. she informed us that the drive to Kyoto would take about 2 hours so we'd better go potty. (she ain't say like *that* but you get the jist). The bathrooms were fantasically clean and you didn't really have to touch anything. The handryers were dope. it was this open oven looking thing on the wall that you stick your hands into...once you do, it glows red and your feel this hot air on your hands till they "bake" dry. it was weird, creepy, fun and efficient all at once. But my favorite bathroom feature was this:





A Baby seat!!!! Yes ladies...you can take the baby in the stall and strap them in while you use the bathroom!! Brilliant! If you only knew how many times Marius crawled out from under the stall and away from me while i was trying to pee and there i am, pants down, trying to run out there and bring him back...it was crazy. they need these in the United States...stat!!!

ok. midnight. i'm turning into a pumpkin. but first, the 3 ladies have something to say about the airport bathrooms...






Wednesday, May 02, 2007

8 Million Stories


I guess we'll see if i can remember them all...
A week ago, I returned from the trip of a lifetime. An experience I will never forget...i hope. So to ensure my lasting memory, i will attempt, over the next few weeks, to record as many memories as i possibly can. Here goes...



friend. cousin. me. sister. Detroit Metro airport. there's nothing to do there but shop and eat so we decided to eat. besides, we had 3 hours until our plane was leaving for Osaka..

remember that old Sesame Street segment where you'd see 3 kids jumping rope in 3 squares and one other kid on a pogo stick in another square? and then the song was like "1 of these things is not like the other, 1 of these kids ain't doin' the same..." or whatever the lyrics were. but anyway yeah...3 of us had salads and 1 of us (wasn't me) ate some chicken and fries. if i had only known what a harbinger this photo was...

we had good conversations tho...this was there first time meeting Stefanie but it didn't seem like it. she fit in well..in no time, her and Queena were busting on each other like old friends...the flight was good too. even tho our arm rests didn't work and we couldn't hear the movie and we couldn't turn on the light and the radio was broken..lol. But it was still fun. me and stef and queena (with the help of our awesome BLACK flight attendant, Michael) found some seats with working armrests so we could watch Dreamgirls. Michael was so cool with us by the end of the flight that he stole a bottle of champagne from first class and gave it to us.

the flight was long but i pretended that there was no time. and i looked out the window alot...



Alaska. wow. still can't believe I saw it...the mountains seemed to go on forever...


that looks like a road but it's not a road. i wish there was something on the ground to give a frame of reference but i'm willing to bet that gap is at least 1 mile wide. i'm still bugging out on how close those mountains look from 36,000 feet in the air...

ok, exhausted. 130am. bed. write more tomorrow.






Thursday, April 19, 2007

12 Hours in the Life: A PhotoJournal

8:30 am. I'm pissed off because i'm hungry and i'm at work. A normal person would have taken the day off. But noooo not me. Instead i'm stuck behind my desk scrambling to get everything done so that i can leave on-time at 330pm and start getting ready for my trip to Japan


930am: Hmmmmmm....I've got this fruit & yogurt parfait from Starbucks. It better be good cuz i'm hungry as hell!


9:32am: Oh so delish! creamy and fruity and yummy...my frozen corporate-trained heart is beginning to thaw and now, and NOW! I can face the rest of the day...


1230pm: this is lunch cuz i'm too busy to step foot outside. some stupid dry danish that i got from Starbucks earlier, some dry ass Apple Jacks, and water. damn near prison food. but fuck it...i want out of here...


345pm: YESSSSS! I'm out. on the V train chillin'. You see that damn umbrella? That piece of shit wouldn't close up and kept poppin outta my bag like some freaked out jack-in-the-box and poked some old lady in the arse. I threw it in the trash first chance i got..


500pm. fighting my way thru traffic to pick up the children. i'm focused. don't cut me off, get outta my way and you BETTA signal when you're turnin' or imma blast my horn at you "J-style"...I had P.E. on the radio too so i was really mad...


530pm: He's got baseball practice and he's ready. so ready that he was backseat driving and shit...as if he knows where to go and i don't! talking about "Mom i know a faster way to the field!"...oh oh now he's a driver...crazy child.


600pm: The first time i've ever picked him up and he was completely done his homework...wow. I had to fix the child's hair before i took this photo ...he had like 6 locs that were defying gravity, even tho he claims he likes them that way. What he fails to understand is that i'm not walking down the street with him looking like that!


7:45pm: I sat down on my couch to get a bite to eat and watched my favorite lady on TV...she was doing improv w/Jason Alexander and David Alan Grier. I've finally found something that she CAN'T do. my god she was horrible. but i still lub her...


930pm: the kids have been dropped off at Dad's house and i'm exhausted. I had to stop for a pick-me-up: hot cocoa w/a double shot of espresso. hopefully, it'll kick in soon so i can finish packing and wash dishes and straighten up and...

*sigh*