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 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 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 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...


1 Day Until Japan

so much to do and so much will go undone....i will not sleep tonite which is fine becuz then that should make it easier to sleep on the plane.

I'm working on a photo journal of my final day of preparations for my trip. this is kinda fun... i should be posting it later tonite. i want to do some videoblogging too so i may work on that while i'm away.

here's some Japan culture trivia: the women in the above photo with the white powder on their faces are not all geisha; some are maiko. maiko are apprentice geisha. Once you become a full geisha, the white powder is no longer required. They can wear it during special performances, though. In Kyoto, geisha are referred to as "geiko"

Also notice that the singular and plural nouns in Japanese are one and the same. One would not say "geishas" or "maikos".

ok i'll be back later. class dismissed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I Come Home Wanting To Touch Everyone

The dogs greet me, I descend
into their world of fur and tongues
and then my wife and I embrace
as if we'd just closed the door
in a motel, our two girls slip in
between us and we're all saying
each other's names and the dogs
Buster and Sundown are on their hind legs,
people-style, seeking more love.
I've come home wanting to touch
everyone, everything; usually I turn
the key and they're all lost
in food or homework, even the dogs
are preoccupied with themselves,
I desire only to ease
back in, the mail, a drink,
but tonight the body-hungers have sent out
their long-range signals
or love itself has risen
from its squalor of neglect.
Everytime the kids turn their backs
I touch my wife's breasts
and when she checks the dinner
the unfriendly cat on the dishwasher
wants to rub heads, starts to speak
with his little motor and violin--
everything, everyone is intelligible
in the language of touch,
and we sit down to dinner inarticulate
as blood, all difficulties postponed
because the weather is so good.

-- Stephen Dunn

Monday, April 16, 2007

I Don't Know What to Say

Massacre. 32 dead. students. teachers. campus.

It just hurts. it just hurts. and it makes me hate guns more than i ever have. the terrible pain all those families must be in... to me, schools are sacred, holy places. infinitely more than any church. hopes and dreams live and thrive within those walls and people's lives often change forever after having passed thru them.

i have class on Wednesday and sitting there is going to be weird. i know it wasn't my school but still. i just feel sadness and pain right now and wish i could hug all the people that i love....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

East Coast of U.S. Pounded by Nor-Typhoon Storm

New Jersey, New York, Pennyslvania and surrounding areas have had a month's worth of rain in the last 14-hours. But don't fear: our ace reporter, Marius, is on the case. He gives us the lastest update on the Nor'Easter Storm (otherwise known as the "Nor-Typhoon".)

Marius reports:

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Friday, April 13, 2007

The Holy Grail?

So I've decided on the gifts that i will bring to Japan. It will be something sweet and tasty and not able to be bought outside of the not Hideki Matsui! Girl Scout Cookies! I think my hosts will love them. And if they don't, I can eat them. It's a win-win.

Now back to "Godzilla". I had mentioned to co-workers that i was trying to think of gifts and they were like "you gotta bring Yankee hats! The Japanese are crazy about Hideki Matsui and love any and everything that has to do with him. He is considered a national treasure. When Japanese tourists come to America, they clean out the stores that have Yankee merchandise." Ok so maybe I should actually find Yankee t-shirts with his name on the back and give those away as gifts. Only a few though because that could get expensive.

Then thinking about all this brought something else to mind: I should buy a bunch of Matsui shirts and sell them on the streets of Kyoto!
Lillakanarie says:

"He grew up in small town near Komatsu airport. People of Ishikawa think he is greater than Yoshiro Mori, former prime minister, from same town of Matsui. Sometime, his news is more important than other big news occured in Tokyo or Iraq or USA or so."

If those shirts are that much of a hot commodity, imagine the profits i could make! Knowing my luck, i'd get arrested for bootlegging. But what if i don't do it out in the open? What if i just happen to strike up conversations with random folks and happen to mention that i've got some hot shirts i need to get rid of? Would someone turn me in? This DJ i know says whenever he goes to Japan, he sells mad mixtapes and i know he doesn't have a license. I should talk to him.

Sheeit, i know i'm too much of a punk to do anything like that. I'll most likely just bring one or two shirts and give one to the president of Hoyu if i meet him/ know, thank them for the sweepstakes and all. And maybe give the other to the receptionist. Gotta look out for the little people...

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

9 Days Till Japan

bright lights, originally uploaded by thericerocket26.

"The journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes twelve days. If you travel for eleven but stop with only one day remaining, how can you admire the moon over the capital? " - Nichiren Daishonin

The journey from Newark, NJ to Kyoto will take only about 18 hours so I guess I don't feel so bad...

Thinking about this upcoming trip oftentimes makes me feel like i'm about to travel to a new planet...discovering new people and things and languages. I know I will experience a bit of culture shock but probably not as much as my travel companions will.

My sister and cousin are coming with me, as is my friend Stefanie. Sister and cousin haven't met friend yet but I know they will love her. Four black women in their 30's galavanting around Kyoto and Nagoya...won't that be a sight! Between us, we've got two heads of dredlocks and 1 head of braids and some curly curls...i wonder who's hair will be touched first?

Backstory for the un-knowing: I enter sweepstakes as a hobby (
i've blogged about this before) and this is my latest win. A 4-night trip to Japan for 4 people. The sponsor of the sweeps is Hoyu USA, a company that makes hair products for women, especially hair dye. It was their 50th Anniversary Sweepstakes. Thousands entered, but only 1 could win. ME. wow.

I won in December of last year and the sponsors chose these dates (Apr 20-26th) for our travel. So basically i've been waiting almost 4 months for this. A nice lady named Yumi, from Hoyu USA, called me today to let me know that i will be receiving a package in the mail this evening detailing all our plans. We go on 2 guided tours (1 in Kyoto and 1 in Nagoya) and we also get a fabulous Geisha dinner. Flights, hotels and all ground transportation will be taken care of; meals are on us. No problem. How sublime and surreal it will be to eat sushi IN JAPAN. Never could i have dreamed only wish is that my best friend could be there to share it with me....maybe someday....

As for my own preparations, i have so much to do. I think i should get a gift for Yumi. Her and some other folks from Hoyu USA will be accompanying us on the trip..especially to give us a tour of the Hoyu headquarters in Nagoya. I've been reading alot about Japanese culture and they really like receiving little gifts from other countries. Specifically small things that cannot be found in Japan but can be eaten. Maybe some little cookies or chocolates or something. I have to go walk around this weekend and see what i can find.

And the language...i know a few phrases from my phrasebook, but since my school semester had started in January, i've barely picked up my phrase book. So this weekend, I'm going to spend some time brushing up. And on the plane too. I think it's shameful to go to another country as someone's guest and not be able to say at least a few things in their least to greet them and thank them. I've been encouraging my companions to do the same but they are not quite as enthusiastic as I am. So I guess i'll be doing all the talking. i dont' mind. i'll be smiling alot anyway.

speaking of smiling, i remember there was this one time I smiled so much, that my teeth dried out. seriously. it was a weird feeling. i don't know why i just typed that but imma leave it in :)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I got off work early today and decided to head down to a lounge on campus, find a comfy chair and read my book for class. I knew i wouldn't get shit done if i went straight home...anyway, a quote from Socrates really threw me for a loop:

"For let me tell you, gentlemen, that to be afraid of death is only another form of thinking that one is wise when one is not; it is to think that one knows what one does not know. No one knows with regard to death whether it is not really the greatest blessing that can happen to a man; but people dread it as though they were certain that it is the greatest evil; and this ignorance which thinks that it knows what it does not, must surely be ignorance most I shall never feel more fear or aversion for something which, for all I know, may really be a blessing than for those evils which I know to be evils."

As a person who has spent most of her natural life completely terrified of death, this was quite eye-opening for me. Not in a "suicide is ok now" way, but a "if something happens to you, don't be afraid to die" way. He is right; we don't know what's on that other side. Many religions have theories but NO ONE has ever been able to come back and report. PLUS, every time you see psychics talk about communicating with dead people, those dead people seem to overwhelmingly report how happy, calm or at peace they are. AND they be hanging around their loved ones all the damn time. So i can spend time with my family but not have rent or bills? YEAH!!!.

ok for real tho, I still think my true fear of death stems from knowing how sad my loved ones would be...especially if my children were still children. so maybe i'm more afraid for them than i am for me.

Monday, April 09, 2007


2 RunDMC flyer, originally uploaded by The Canon Rattman.


Before I write about my beloved legends, I gotta send a huge shoutout to
Flickr. I love love love their site. Not only do they make it easy and fun to archive your own photos, you have access to zillions of other photos that you can use in blogs. There's even a handy button above every photo that says "Blog this". Bling Blam. And it even takes care of the whole "photo credit" issue. Sweeeet.

So yeah, that flyer above. I think i was just starting
high school when that tour began and i was so bummed that my dad wouldn't let me go. He felt i would be trampled and killed (or worse) at a rap concert. My little boom bap'd heart was broken for weeks.

Run DMC and LL Cool J epitomized hiphop for me and i wanted to emulate them in every way. I salivated over my first pair of shelltop Adidas, attempted to save up for a fresh Kangol hat, and was jealous of everybody i saw wearing an Adidas track suit. I even tried to write rhymes (thank goodness none of those still exist.)

Fast forward 20 years later (jesus christ, 20 years later!) and my new favorite TV show is
Run's House. Reverend Joseph "Run" Simmons is the new Cliff Huxtable. If the Cosby Show were a reality show, this would be it. He's just as wise and just as silly as Cliff Huxtable. And he happens to also have 5 amazing kids and an adorable wife. Family meetings on the couch are a regular occurrence. The kids range in ages from 8 years old to adulthood. The show is fun, wholesome, funny, poignant, funny and inspiring. And as a super-bonus, we get to have occasional outrageously witty repartee between Run and his eccentric brother, Russell Simmons.

The show is in it's 3rd season but i'm still catching up on the older reruns. My sister told me about it a while back, but at that time, i wasn't quite ready to add another entree onto my TV dinner plate. My idiot box cup runneth over like a muh-fucka. Between Oprah, Heroes, The Sopranos, Entourage, and American Idol, I don't get no damn sleep! School work suffers! Children go hungry! Villages burn!

ok it ain't that bad but yeah.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I'm supposed to be reading Plato

Death of Socrates, originally uploaded by Maulleigh.

More specifically, The Last Days of Socrates. Thankfully, I only have to read one piece in that book, The Apology. There just wasn't time to read it this weekend with the kids here. They had so much of their own work that i needed to help them with.

I can't believe how lucky i got with this first class. The workload is fairly light and Prof pretty much loves whatever I write, even when I KNOW it's crappy. But hey, i'm not complaining. If he's happy, I'm happy.

We have this 6-page paper due in two weeks and i haven't started it yet. I would like to complete it before I leave for Japan so that i don't have to stress over it. I WAS going to write a critique on a rap song, but i've realized it's going to be way more challenging than he deserves. No disrespect to Prof, but if he's cool with my output at it's current level, i see no need to expend extra intellectual energy to impress him. I'll save that for a Prof who's actually kicking my ass. I need to conserve energy right now. I have a feeling my next two classes are going to be taxing.

12 Days Until Japan

pestulent poser, originally uploaded by Mr. Mark.

I can't believe it's this soon. I'm ready but i'm not ready. It still doesn't seem real...

Winning this trip in a sweepstakes is definitely among the top three Most Surreal Things To Ever Happen to Me. With the other two being

-dancing onstage with Prince at Madison Square Garden

-holding a $64,000 check in my hand after appearing on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

I have so much more to say about Japan but i need to get to sleep...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My (Sorta) New Love Affair

I used to do radio. And I loved it. Being on the other side of that wall...knowing that i'm speaking and unseen people are was heady and lovely and intoxicating. Every week i would walk into the station and see those microphones there and the control board and i'd just get excited. The only thing that would make me more excited was when listeners would call in to react to what we were saying and to what music we were playing.

I listened to alot radio back then. Probably just as much as i did when i was a kid. But after i stopped doing the radio show, i also stopped listening to the radio. It wasn't purposeful. It just kinda fell away from my life altogether. Then i got down with mp3s and it was a wrap. If you can create your own playlist for every moment of your life, what do you need to listen to commercial radio for? Ok admittedly, i'm probably missing out on a lot of new music and artists and i do feel out of the loop when it comes to that. I feel like i should know at least one song by TV On The Radio but i don't. oh well...

But i have a new radio love. And ironically, i discovered it as an mp3. a podcast to be exact. Chicago Public Radio has this amazing show called This American Life. Ira Glass is the host. Each week he brings you stories on a particular theme. Stories of average Americans of all ages and races. It's poignant, insightful, hilariously funny and sometimes sad but it absolutely perfect...and it just makes me oh so happy. In fact, in recent weeks, i don't think i've been happier than when i'm listening to his show. I anxiously await the next week's download and i plan out when i will listen in the car...only in the car. It's my special time and place to reflect on This American Life. Oftentimes, I've stayed out in front of my house, in my car for an extra half hour because i just wanted to finish the hour-long program before going inside. I can't listen inside the house. It's just not as special. I don't know why.