Friday, September 12, 2014

The Last of the Mohicans

This post is not about Uncas or Chingachgook or Hawkeye in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, it concerns my uncle's funeral last week and really when it all boils down to it, my father.  

Seems there has been a lot of funerals in my family for the last nine years.  The older generation is dying out, my parent's siblings and one of my grandmothers.  All my grandparents are gone now, may they rest in peace.  Of my uncles and aunts who are left, my father is the last of his brothers and he has only two sisters left; my  mother has one younger brother left and two sisters; mom is the eldest.  In the last nine years I attended some of the funerals and others I could not.  Some relatives died near here and others far away.  My father has lost three brothers and one sister in the last two years.  His eldest brother who was 90 died in January, and week before last another of his brothers died after battling prostate cancer for many years.  He had been scheduled to receive rigorous chemotherapy at Emory in Atlanta because nothing else could be done for him in the hospitals here.  One of my aunts called one evening week before last to tell my father that my uncle was passing way, "waiting on God"  to use her exact words.  He had stopped speaking or doing anything.  We missed her call until later that night at about 1 AM.  I happened to spot the light blinking on the phone for the voice mail and got her message. The next day my uncle died at his home.  

My father did not have a good relationship with his family. Jealousy and malicious gossip destroyed any sense of love.  Dad never tried hard enough to make peace with most of his family.  Being essentially a person who will never admit that he is wrong until it is far far too late, his pride did not allow him to go to some of them and say that he was sometimes wrong as well.  He so much wanted praise from his family for his successes and often did not receive it, even from his own father.  

My father and his family were extremely poor growing up like most black people in the South and all over America.  His mother had fourteen children to survive out of eighteen pregnancies.  My father had a twin that died right after birth.  Under such circumstances and with a father who was cold and could become violent when he drank, many people would have become discouraged and beaten down early in life, but my father did not.  He was highly ambitious.  Many of the black people in his generation were like that unlike today. Poverty and oppression could be smelled in every aspect of their lives, but they were determined, and some did go to college and became successful.  

Dad had to give up his dream of going to Morehouse College and studying to become a physician, but he become a business man instead, first starting an upholstery business in our home and having a job during the day.  He took a correspondence course training himself to be an upholsterer.  After putting up a sign in our front yard, he began to get customers.  He did all of his work in our car garage until he decided it was time to take the plunge, quit his job, and open his business in town.  He always expected his family to praise and be proud of him, but only two brothers and one sister ever really did to his liking.  They had all come out of such poverty that he expected them to be happy for him, but dad does not understand human nature very well and still does not.  He still believes that reality ought to be the way he wants it to be.  That is not real life.  In the past I also felt that if I was good, decent, and kind, happiness and what I wanted would come into my life.  The things I've wanted the most have not, and for many years I gave up and felt that if I could not have what I wanted, there was no need to try very hard.  I am happy that I have finally learned to pretty much accept life as it is.  But for my dad, being 75 and still not willing to accept reality, I never expect any change.  

These days my father has built a shrine on his desk to all of his dead immediate family members.  He has framed photos of them lined up along with the funeral programs of two of his brothers.  Every night at about the same time he  goes to his desk and sits there silently gazing at all of them.  Then he drops his head and stares at the floor a long time.  I really feel sorry for him because he must have a great deal of guilt that he did not get along with most of them.   My mother says that he can deal with them better now that they're mostly all gone.  I don't know about that.  I believe he is experiencing extreme regret that he will have to live with for the rest of his life.  He did not even bother to go to most of their funerals including my grandfather's.  He cannot deal with the idea of death and getting old.  Also at the time he had so much rage against most of them including his own dad.  

Last week mom and I went to my uncles' funeral.  We try to go to the ones we can because we know dad will not.  In the last two years before his eldest brother who lived in Detroit died, they often called each other.  Dad had plenty of respect for his oldest brother because he often encouraged my father and said nice things to him.  This uncle of mine used to come down here on the bus from Detroit and stay with us for several days when I was a little girl. My father respects anyone who is old because he believes that with age comes wisdom. Well, sometimes, and it should, but last week a certain famous old woman died here in America who was an indicator that wisdom does not not always arrive with age. Wisdom is a gift from God, so there are some young people who are old souls who are actually quite wise.  Remember King Solomon in the Bible who asked for and acquired his wisdom through prayer to God?  I've met some older people who aren't very wise because they won't allow themselves to be.  They cling to the past and dream of being young because American society honors youth and ignores or scorns the aged.  

So my uncle was buried last week.  I saw relatives I know and did not know.  One of my social studies teachers from middle school was there and I went up to him and asked if he remembered me.  He told me he remembered my face and that he often recalled his former students faces, but not their names.  It turns out that he and my uncle had been childhood friends and had maintained their friendship throughout their lives. He is a little older than my uncle who was 80.  I think it is very difficult for today's people to hold on to friendships for so long.  Mobility and selfishness often get in the way.  The old people got so much right that we now get so wrong. 

One of dad's old childhood friends called this week.  He hadn't heard about my uncle's death until after the funeral, so he called to express his condolences and to chat a bit.  My father told him that he was "The Last of the Mohicans" because all of his brothers are now deceased.  He tried to attach a little laugh to it, but I am sure he is hurting.  I doubt he will ever admit to his hurt, but when I see him go and sit every night before the shrine he has made of his family I know it must be a terrible feeling to never have the chance again to reconcile with some of those he was biologically the closest to.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Iftar and Hugs

*Please excuse the white highlighting in this post.  I can't remove it.  I think there is a possible glitch in Blogger today. 

Iftar means to break fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  The iftar meal comes in the evening after an entire day of fasting. I am a Christian who gets invited to iftars, and it makes me feel special and a part of something bigger than myself, a community.  I'm a Christian who feels much closer to Muslims than I do to most American Christians.  I have gone to a number of iftars both here at home and in Turkey.  Last year I went to two; one was at a friends' home and the other at the city's mosque.  This year because so many of the Turkish people I know are gone and others I never developed a friendship with because they did not move regularly in the circle I was in, I didn't expect to be invited anywhere. My Turkish friend Ebru never gives up on me.  

Even though we have disagreements, Ebru will always call when I least expect it.  She has one more year here to work on her doctorate in math education and then she will go back to Turkey. In the past she has encouraged me to live in Turkey in what she says is her favorite town, Balıkesir.  She lives in Istanbul, but for some reason she says she just adores Balıkesir and dreams of living there. It so happens that one of her new roommates is from that city.  The other is from Aydın.

So yesterday the telephone rang not long after me and mom had come home from shopping. The shopping never ends it seems. The chief activity of people in this place is shopping.  I believe some of the shabbily dressed couples I see at Walmart even go out on dates down there. Makes sense because it would mesh very well with America's love for tackiness and buying things.  Well, the phone rang and automatically I thought it was the usual annoying recordings or an opinion survey.  The caller ID said private number, so I refused to answer. About an hour later the phone rang and it was private number again.  I thought what the devil and decided to pick up the phone and put this possible pesky telemarketer in his or her place for calling twice in one day.  When I answered it was Ebru, and she gave me an impromptu invitation to come over to break the fast with her and her two roommates.  She said she knew the invitation was at the last minute but she hoped I would agree to come.  I immediately said yes.  I was feeling very dejected, thrown away, and lonely.  My only concern was that I might have a bit of a hard time finding her new apartment.  She tried to give me directions while I was on Google Maps.  Once I could make sense of things, I felt slightly confident that I could locate her home fairly easily because when I left it would still be daylight.  

I found Ebru's house after making one mistake, driving on pass the first road that ultimately leads to the complex where her townhouse is located.  Afraid that I might miss the turn into the complex, she came walking out to the road to meet me.  

I had an enjoyable evening just us four ladies.  I was the eldest, and Ebru's roommates are young. They are presently taking English courses to improve their language skills.  They can speak some English and told me that they could understand me well.  Their need is to become more confident in speaking.  One of them, Hacer (hope I spelled it right)  made to hug and kiss me, but then withdrew shyly, apologetically saying she was so used to hugging and kissing someone because of her culture.  I told her it was okay, and that I always do the Turkish greeting since I've been around Turks for years.  I went up to her and we embraced. I told mom about this today, and she said that black people once hugged each other on greeting, but the more we integrated into white culture, we lost our warmth.  

Ebru's roommates are not letting go of their Turkish accouterments.  They've brought various utensils from Turkey: large tulip shaped tea glasses, the tiny cups for Turkish coffee, and the small pot to make the coffee in called a cezve.  Since iftar started at 8:45 last night we finished our meal and dessert late.  I was offered Turkish coffee, but I regretfully refused because I was afraid the caffeine might keep me awake.  I love Turkish coffee.  

Before I left their home last night I asked if Hacer's name is the same as the name of the prophet Ibrahim's wife. In the Bible Ibrahim is God's friend Abraham.  I was told yes, it is the same.  Then I told them the English name Hagar.  I always love it when there's a piece of history to be found in unexpected places.  Also at their door hung a small wall hanging with quotes from the poet Rumi or as the Turks call him, Mevlana.  The hanging had a picture of the poet and a whirling dervish weaved into it.  The blue and white amulet for the evil eye, the nazar boncuğu,  was attached hanging below.  I was enchanted because I love Rumi's poetry.  I could recognize some words in Turkish, but I could not comprehend a lot of them. Without being asked, Ebru translated them all into English.  

11 PM came too fast for me.  I wanted to stay longer, but I decided to leave since I was concerned I might lose my way back home due to the fact that my friend's apartment complex is far out in the woods.  She says they often see deer and armadillos out there.  Yesterday morning two deer even appeared in my neighborhood.  Mom saw them in the field across the road.  They made as if they would come on this side, but when one of our neighbors drove out they fled.  

Iftar and hugs lifted my spirits somewhat last night.  I hugged Ebru and both of her two roommates in the Turkish manner before I walked out the door last night.  Sometimes it's the little things that provide hope even for someone like me who is often afraid to hope too much.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How Marriage Went Out of Style in the Black Community

I am going to write things here that some are not going to like or want to accept, but it needs to be written.  I feel I am the person who should do it.  This is going to be painful for me to write.  I feel uncomfortable about being this open.  Nevertheless, it is time that I finally do it to lift a terrible weight off me that I have carried for years. 

For the last decade I've spent a great deal of time with Muslim Turks and have developed a love of Islamic culture and history. I converted to Islam last year then quickly became an apostate because I still have many questions.  I consider myself once again a Christian, but one who is in limbo. 

Unlike in Western culture marriage is highly encouraged and expected in Islam. Family is prized. One of the first questions many Muslims will ask me is if I'm married.  When I tell them, feeling shame, no, they ask why.  Why?  Because I am an educated black woman in America, and if you could only imagine... 

It's very easy to get married in Islamic culture if you want to.  Friends can introduce you to someone, you can easily meet your future spouse while attending an institution of higher learning in a Muslim country, you can seek a Muslim spouse online through Islamic dating sites, you can meet someone at work or randomly, and lastly parents and family can even offer a hand in finding someone for you.  A woman can ask a man to marry her in Islam.  I had a student who told me when her mother was a older orphaned teenager she asked her a widowed and middle aged man to marry her.  At first he hesitated because of the age difference, but eventually this girl's future parents wed.  Sometimes in countries like Iran and Nigeria mass weddings are held where couples and single or widowed women who are having a hard time finding a spouse are married. If you do not get married in a Muslim country, it is a personal choice, not because you cannot find anyone.   Some of the above do or used to apply in American culture, but if you are a black woman you have little to zero options of ever finding a husband who is marriage material or anyone who is willing to marry you.  I was born during the final years of the Baby Boom, and things have steadily collapsed since the time my parents were introduced to each other by my father's sister who knew my mother.  My parents have been married fifty-three years.  A rarity in America.

When I was in high school dating came into vogue.  I found it all atrocious.  The white girls would cuddle up in the hallways a month or two with one guy and then be with someone else a month or two later.  Because of lack of culture or real identity many of the blacks started to do the same thing.  We always take on the worst behavior of the whites and then intensify what they do to even more outrageous heights.  The white girls tried to keep their promiscuity secret, but there were many rumors in high school about who had gotten abortions.  By the 10th and 11th grades there was an avalanche of black girls who had gotten pregnant.  My best friend did, and I was shocked and heartbroken.  She was such a sweet person.   Later she told me she had been raped and how she hated her child's father.  My friend was not a loose girl, so I believed her. The father of her child was a guy I knew who had already graduated from high school.  I was totally turned off by the dating scene.  I saw it as a kind of savagery and a total disregard for other people's feelings.  I was not interested in dating when I was a teenager.  I was too idealistic and just too afraid.  

My freshman year I attended an all women's black college.  There were two other neighboring black colleges in vicinity, one of them all male.  In middle and high school I had seen how many of the black boys were crude and sexual in their behavior.  Many showed little respect for girls. They would use profanity and make open sexual advances. Even I was not left out as a target for their sexual harassment. They also developed a hierarchy of which black girls were most  valued.  If you had long hair, light skin, or was loud and lewd you were seen as the most appealing. One or all three would do.  Things did not change much in college.  Studious girls like me were ignored.   Over time I came to dislike most African American men except some of my uncles who were kind and caring.  I met a few black boys who were nice guys, but the majority were not. 

I transferred back home to my town's university where I met a few foreign men, some from Africa. I found them more learned and gentlemanly.  I wondered why so many black American male did not want to work hard, did not value education, be responsible, or treat women well.   Why couldn't they be more like the Africans and some of the other foreigners I met?  I had to go all the way to Turkey before I ever even received flowers from a man.  I almost married a Turkish man, but things fell apart.  I don't blame him fully.  I also blame myself. I still ask almost everyday what is wrong with black men in America?  Some might say forget African American men and suggest marrying a white American man.  I know my history and I'm aware what still goes on today and the attitudes, so no I could never marry one of them.  I'm a Pan-Africanist, and I have my pride.  

As time went on I realized that I might never get  married because there was really no one to marry.  I confess that after all these years I'm traumatized by what I witnessed in high school.  I do not have many happy memories of that time or ever dream of going back to that period like some people do. When many of my black and white schoolmates found me on Facebook and sent friend requests, I was not excited.  I never really liked most of them.  I was not interested in reconnecting with these people from the past.    

One of the many dirty secrets of the black community is that a lot of African American men are intimidated by a woman who is educated.  Read what this nerdy black woman went through on a date with a black male who could not accept that she was not typical: My Black is Not Your Black, and That's Okay.    You must follow an expected pattern, remain in a certain box if you are a black woman.  If you do not many African American men will find you unacceptable or too "white."  

The darker skinned some black men are the more self hatred they  appear to have. Even someone who is reddish brown like me is not light enough for them. Also this is an era when more and more black men openly say they hate black women in social media and show it by their actions.  A number of  black male entertainers and athletes promote this kind of thinking. They do not feel they are anyone unless they have a white woman on their arm.  Today even where I live in  the Deep South, the cradle of some of the worst white racism on the planet, the majority of the interracial couples you see are black men and white women.  

American society is isolated, selfish, and schizophrenic.  What black people have become is a reflection of the society.  America is not exceptional. It is a grotesque anomaly.  African Americans had a choice not to become degraded, but most of us have fallen into a terrible state where I don't see there can ever be a return.  I am very very ashamed to be American or an African American.  I started calling myself African three years ago.  I feel that I am basically a stateless person now.  

Because of so many twisted attitudes in the black community and society at large marriage went out of style in the black community.  The black community is now based on a hedonistic culture of consumerism, sex, violence, thuggery, and whoredom.  Blacks in America are destroyed.  Without black men and women marrying each other there is no family structure and future of there ever being a healthy black community.  Almost 80% of black children are born out wedlock.  Only about 35% of black women will ever marry.  This is not about the legacy of slavery, a lie and misinformation that a lot of young blacks and few so-called black intellectuals are screaming.  Most of the people in my parents' and grandparents' generation got married. This is about the sick attitudes, recklessness, and immorality that started to get out of hand in my generation.  Today we see the final culmination of sin and bastardization of an already bastardized society, a black president married to a black woman who never once has talked about the fact that most black women in the US will never get a husband. Instead he promotes homosexual marriage.  He looks the other way and refuses to promote our well-being.  

The next time a Muslim asks me why I am not married I'm going to tell him or her that my own people ruined my dream of a marriage and family. In their eyes I am too educated and too decent a woman with traditional values for anyone to consider marrying me in this culture. Really it is too late for me.  The world is upside down here.  It is not like your world.  Maintain your world if you know what's good for you.  In the American black community women decided that the best thing to do was to sleep around and have kids with anybody, and the men decided that the only "good" women were the ones with the worst character.  Females are to be  judged solely by they appearance or how good they are in bed.  

Any Muslim who is enamored with anything American, I urge you to flee.  My one comfort is that I did not have to raise children to suffer as I have in this country.  Let America go to hell. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shattered Heritage: The US Destruction of Iraq's Heritage

The documentary below continues to haunt me even though I saw it a few weeks ago. 

Iraq hasn't really been in US news much since about 2006, until now.  After President Saddam Hussein was executed on the first day of Eid on December 30, 2006, Iraq disappeared out of the news until President Obama withdrew US troops from the country in 2011.  

Few Americans know that the US government left behind a residue of not only an embassy and consulate of over 20,000 staff along with thousands of what are politely called "private contractors," but carnage has also been left behind. It has been continuous in that country since the government proclaimed end of the war. 

The Iraqi people are being mocked and warred against continuously, and what this documentary that was recently broadcast by al-Jazeera English shows is that an incredibly unique culture was literally murdered.  

I had never before heard of any modern culture that put such emphasis on art, books, and the cultured like Iraq once did.  I have seen paintings by Iraqis that moved me and read some of their incredible poetry that must be even more outstanding in the original Arabic. I have read Iraqi bloggers over the years who were some of the best writers in the blogger-sphere when blogging was king. I had no idea about the depth of this country and culture as it once was.  I knew that it is one of the most ancient civilizations on earth, but I knew little about what modern Iraq really stood for in world culture. 

What a treasure the world has lost because of the crimes of the country I live in.  As a  lover of history, culture, art, poetry, books this documentary touches my heart more than it would many people. But if a person has a drop of humanity left and even if he or she lacks my tastes, this documentary should move them.   This is a story about a people and a great nation smashed and thrown into the dirt to burn.   Now this country is plotting to finally rip Iraq's territories completely apart...  

After over a decade of hearing negative propaganda about Iraq, it is past due that Americans learn what the true enemy destroyed.  This is a great tragedy that should be seen.  As the Iraqi poet at the end recites:

They were thirty armies,
Backed by all the people on earth.
Even neighbors and family.
They all waged war against a small land
That is great with its' history. 

I Changed My Blog's Name

I decided to change my blog's name to something perhaps a little more personally fitting.  The end of 2013 I finally read all of The Pillow Book, Sei Shonagon's collection of observations of the people and places around her. Her writings have a different tone than mine, more upbeat. She make even the boring sound delightful.  I can write in an upbeat tone, but for me it requires more effort.  

I decided to come up with a name for my blog that has personal significance. It doesn't necessarily go with the tone of the writing I do on this blog, but I like it.  However, I would like to start writing less dreary posts, not sentimental, but more uplifting.  

Not only do I like the appearance of roses but also the taste.  You might wonder, "How can you eat roses?"  But they really are edible.  

Roses have a lot of meaning and uses in Middle Eastern cultures. I've worked and lived in a Middle Eastern country that doesn't always see itself as Middle Eastern, Turkey.  It's a country that is a mixture of East and West with something of an identity crisis, but that is another story. The first time I learned that roses could be for more than just the visual was one day when I passed a candy shop in Istanbul with a friend and she pointed out the rose flavored lokum or what we call in the West call Turkish Delight.  I knew of Turkish Delight with hazelnuts, but rose flavored?  I was intrigued.  

Thus began my love affair of things flavored with roses.  I learned about Sweet Rose Tulsi Tea on Facebook which later I purchased at EarthFare.  We always have some roses in our yard. This past school year a little Mexican boy gave me this yellow rose at work.  

I hadn't received any flowers from a guy in some years, so this was kind of special to me even though it was from a little guy.  There is just a special feeling that comes with receiving a rose.  

I used to think that roses were only about floral beauty, romance, and poetry, but in the East and in Islamic culture they have long been a part of the culinary world along with the medicinal. Last week the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet English ran the article Taste of the rose. And last year Iran's PressTV broadcast this cultural segment about rosewater distillery.  

I would like to learn more about the art of the rose.  For now I just have some assorted lokum in the refrigerator with some rose flavored mixed in.  It's really not mine, but some I bought for mom on Mothers Day. Mom doesn't mean sharing though.  She actually loves Turkish Delight more than I do.  I also have this "rose" blog.  I am not making any promises since I am now working on becoming a real writer offline, but  I would like to post a couple short posts per month.  I probably won't be able to keep this promise to myself, but there are many interesting things that often occur that deserve more than a micro-blog post.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spreading Beauty

I woke up early and decided to post to my blog. 

I don't blog regularly for several reasons, the chief of which is a professional writer named Karen Tintori told me a few years ago that if I wanted to be a serious writer to stay away from the blogs.  I agree.  That are some really good bloggers who should be channeling their efforts into writing books, etc. instead of putting big portions of their time into the "fast food" world of blogging. Over the years I've followed some of these bloggers who are extraordinarily good writers and some have either completely disappeared from the blogosphere or post very sparsely during the year.  

Social media has also killed the blog. It makes expression even more junk food like.  I follow some people on Twitter who also should be putting their time and effort into serious writing and not Tweeting several times a day.  What they have to say is too big, too eloquent, too serious for only social media.  

2013 I was very slack with my writing.  I only sent out a few poems hoping they'd be published in some poetry magazines.  I got rejected, but one literary journals' editor (African American Review) encouraged me to keep trying.  

School will be closing next Friday for summer vacation.  I hope this summer I will be able to send out more work, polish all of my poetry, and basically try to find my own particular voice as a writer and poet.  This week I just finished writing a short story with black characters which evolved into a story more suited to a young adult audience.  I've also started a historical short story that is set in the final years of Ottoman Turkey.  The idea for it came to me from something I read in a book by Alev Croutier. I've been writing this story invisibly, developing a lot of it in my mind like I did the short story I finished on Wednesday.  Some of it has been put down on paper, but since I've been working, I've done mainly mental writing thus far. I'm going to start rewriting and editing my other short story soon.  I'm anxious to get deep into my historical tale, however.  I can visualize the characters in my mind, and I'm really longing to develop them.  

Really what this post is about is not what is happening in my ordinary and sometimes boring life, but it is about a picture I saw posted on Twitter this week.  I'd seen the photo before when my Facebook account was open.  Someone Tweeted it, and said she had it saved to her phone.  I don't want to get in trouble for copyright infringement by posting the photo directly here so here's a link to it: click here.   

The first time I saw this photo of this African woman playing her cello alone the words and phrases that came to mind were "imprisoned but not an imprisoned mind," "spreading beauty in her own little corner," "happiness in the dust"  "ordinary & extraordinary," "spreading paradise among indifference", "alone but happy."  The photo touched me in so many ways.  

I played the violin for two years when I was in the 4th and 5th grades.  Dad had rented a violin for me. The music shop told him he could buy it eventually for me if he so decided.  I remember how I used to practice alone in my room in the terrible scratchy manner that kids do when they are trying to learn how to play a stringed instrument. I was in the school's orchestra long enough to play in one concert, but just before entering middle school I stopped.  My father offered to buy the violin if I kept practicing, but I made a very bad mistake out of fear.  I loved playing the violin. Everything about my instrument I loved from the bow to the case onward.  I had already been accused by my black classmates of speaking like a white person.  I was one of only a handful of black students in my school who were doing advanced level studies.   I also lived in the suburbs. My  neighborhood was the most affluent black area in town, with a populace of teachers, business people, and even a neighbor who was involved in city government.  So I had a lot going against me in my own group; I was an outsider trying to fit in back then.  Fearful that I would be picked on even more I told dad I didn't want to continue studying music and learning how to play.  I told mom I was scared that I would be picked on and called white or an "Uncle Tom."  It was intra-racial tyranny with my people when I was growing up and it still is so today.  Black culture like white American culture is almost completely anti-intellectual.  It's an entertainment and sports culture, but its' focus is on very low grade entertainment.  Things like violin playing is for white folks, and now even with a lot of white people anyone who is into higher culture is seen as a nerd or weird. 

 I feel sad sometimes after all these years that I wasn't brave enough at the time to not cave into to pressure.  I still regret my weakness and fear. I wish I'd had the rebellious spirit I do today.  Where might I be now with my violin?  I might be playing in a symphony orchestra somewhere in the world like the lady in the photo.  

Josephine Nsimba Mpongo in the photo who lives in the capital city of the Congo sales eggs during the day, but she doesn't limit herself to just a second-rate  life. She brings beauty to herself and others.  The culture we live in encourages everyone to reach for the lowest common denominator.  It wants everyone to be run of the mill, and most people fall for it.  They killed the humanities and arts and want everybody to just focus on money and technology.  I see so many people including children who are zombie like, just a wheel in the machine.  They have no imagination.  They are too afraid to reach beyond the few mediocre people in their lives or their imaginary celebrity friends that they will defend and protect faster than they would any family member. 

This is what we live in, but the woman in the photo has gone against the grain sitting perhaps in her yard fenced in, playing her cello, but I bet she is happy.  She is creating beauty in the dust, in the grime.  I really really love and honor people like that who dare to be different despite the dirt and insanity around them.  It's tough if you do, but it is far more rewarding than remaining trapped in the herd in the midst of ugliness. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thoughts About A Birthday

For me, in the last few years birthdays bring about thoughts of my mortality.  However, I am not afraid of death.  I do not wish to be younger when I look at these times, this era of human civilization which is becoming more uncivilized by the month.  I do not relish going back to when I was young.  Being black, that was no picnic.  The black child faces a loss of innocence very soon in America because of an early awareness that you are black and second rate.  This is imposed on the consciousness quickly and quietly.  We become damaged goods very early. 

Now humanity is warring with itself it appears almost everywhere, and being under an American system, a system and way of thinking that is not balanced and is hostile to the nature of what it means to be human, makes it even worse.  America should not ever be ruling this world. It is too vicious to the human spirit to be permitted to get its' influence everywhere.  It is too racist, degenerate, anti-intellectual, and hostile to be allowed to take over and get a grip on the souls of humanity.  Buying things to acquire a sense of self worth, being in debt all the time to get those things, bowing down to the dollar as god without having a real culture kills the spirit over time. 

I see killed spirits everyday on my job or when I go out shopping and see the disheveled masses.  My parents always taught me to be careful of my appearance even if I were just going out for something as ordinary as visiting a friend or going with them to the grocery store.  Their rules stuck with me. 

When I leave my home it is rare that I see a  person who cares how he or she looks.  People's spirits have been broken in this country.  Most aren't even aware of it.  Money, technology, and buying stuff we desire to have a sense of status does not make up for what a spiritual being needs.  We are not just material beings, but there is a more profound spiritual essence in us.  American life has deprogramed who we really are.  It is trying to do this with all humanity.  It is trying to root up the spiritual in humanity everywhere.   It started on black people 40 years ago, and all the world can now see what we have become.  

Now it is said that over 40% of Americans are on anti-depressants and the use covers almost all age groups including children from ages 0 to 3.   I worked in a pharmacy when I was  in graduate school back in the late 80s and even back then many people were coming in to have prescriptions filled for anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.  You have to be a strong one because American life can drive you crazy.

I turned 52 yesterday.  I feel my age and more sometimes.  I don't have the best health, but I don't think I have any life threatening illnesses.  I don't have any wrinkles.  My hands look like a young person's.  At heart I feel young and have retained a degree of innocence. 

I get e-mail updates when a young Iraqi woman named Sarah writes posts.  She mentioned that she mostly attracts people who are older than she is.  I'm the opposite.  I attract mainly those who are younger.  I try to squirm out of  being around them, but I often end up with people younger than myself and who are not Americans.  I can't seem to eradicate these people out of my life.  

At this point in my life I have heard enough and seen enough, so being around people does not bring me self validation.  I often like to be alone.  When I was younger I felt something was lacking in me because I was alone.  I got depressed about it.  I felt inadequate.  Now I have a great sense of my self-worth.  I feel that I am "royalty," so I do not hesitate if the behavior around me is bad to look down my nose at people or treat them as if they are invisible.  Even though I might be misjudged because of my skin color or gender, I do not judge anyone for these things.  I look at behavior and outlook.   I try to figure out any hidden agendas what might be a detriment to me or my people. No one can look down on me in the end, and for those who attempt to I let them know in my own subtle way that they have no right and that they have already failed.  

When I went into my fourth decade on this earth, I cried. Now I do not cry about getting older.  I don't blame myself anymore for the things American society stole from me.  I was robbed like most black women.  I was left with few options from my own group and certainly from white people.  I don't get all patriotic about America because I understand that this will never be fully my homeland.   I feel nothing when I think of America.  I am numb to it. It is about as important to me as a piece of unclean litter blown by the wind down the street.  The only affect it has is I hate what it does to people, what it transforms them into.  I will always be the child of those who were kidnapped and  whose identity erased.  I guess some will ask why do you feel this way? You aren't impoverished like a lot of black people.  You're middle class, comfortable.  It's true, but this is not a place I would have wanted to have raised children.  I would not want to see them damaged by their self-hating own group and the larger society.  Meeting the right kind of man was nearly impossible here.  Yes, I have had several marriage proposals, even a couple in the last year (not from Americans), but I turned them all down because I doubted their motives.  For other women if settling is fine, that is their problem.  It is not for me.  I have a right to the best or I'd rather be alone. 

I still hold on to what I was told one day in another country like a precious jewel.  It remains in my heart hidden.  I wear it still close to my heart like a pendant.  It may very well be true what some people told me in Botswana years ago.  I was told I look like some of the members of a tribe in Ghana who are royalty.  Some people can see more than the surface in others. They can connect beyond a certain point in time.   I can even do this sometimes. There are the seers who few, and then there are the rest who are blind or very myopic.  What those people of Botswana told me helped me to hold my head up high.  For a time after their words I was tortured by loneliness and tragedy, now I have came back to what I was meant to be. 

Yesterday I went out alone to celebrate my birthday.  I went to a Chinese buffet.  I am not afraid or ashamed to eat alone.  I walked into that restaurant with dignity, better dressed than all the Americans black and white and the Mexicans. Like most everywhere the people looked disheveled, run down.  The Chinese waitresses and one waiter were dressed better than some of the customers.  I got the waiter this time.  He was a tall Chinese man probably in his early thirties.  I'm 5'7 and a half and he was taller than me.  I think it might be the Japanese who are short.  I've only met one Japanese person.  Some of  the Chinese I've met are just as tall or taller than I am. 

Some girls' and women's self-worth all depends on whether or not they get male attention.  It does not for me.  It's a nice dessert, but I don't always need dessert.  You kind of learn to live with it in America. 

I don't try to make men into something more or less than they are.  I don't get into the debate about which gender is so bad or which is so good.  I've seen ugliness from them both, just like I've known some men and women with noble and pure spirits, who tried to be good in this world which drives people who are weak to evil.

My Chinese waiter was very kind, and I can see when a man is attracted.  He wasn't too bad looking either.  He looked like someone who should be a professor in a lecture hall instead of waiting tables in a restaurant.   In this world some of us become displaced.... 

I don't eat a whole lot when I eat.  I know my limits and refuse to stuff myself.  Yesterday was unusual.  I really love Chinese food.  I had a big appetite  for a change and ate two plates of fried rice, those wonderful green beans, spicy beef, chicken, fried potatoes with parley, a tomato, cucumber, parley and cilantro shrimp salad, two half cups of soup so spicy it made my nose run, topped off by a big spoonful of banana pudding, two pieces of cantaloupe, and a piece of honeydew melon. I took my fortune cookie and left.

When I got home I had only been there about 15 minutes when the phone rang.  I thought it might be my brother calling from his job, but instead when I looked at the caller ID I saw it was one of my Turkish ex-friends or friends.  They still consider me their friend even though I told them to get lost in November.  I'd said I had nothing in common with "you people."  2013 was not been a banner year for me.  I felt I needed a break from all except a minimal amount of people.  I was mentally and spiritually exhausted.  I needed renewal. 

I had already got an e-mail the other week from the Turkish Student Association inviting me to an afternoon lecture at the university. It was on one of those goody goody topics about world peace and people coming together. We get these all the time, but the world becomes more violent and unstable.  The professor leading the lecture shouldn't be in my town but up in DC preaching to the warmongers and bloodsuckers the need for peace and cooperation.   I unsubscribed to the e-mail once again and gave my harsh but truthful reason why.  I used to say all the time that Turks will not take no for answer, and from my experience of being around many of them for the last 10 years many don't. 

So  the call was from the Turkish friend I had told I wasn't having nothing else to do with any of them.  I was sure she would get the word out to the rest.  After not seeing any of them or saying anything for four months, I was being invited for a little get together for my birthday.  I had been praying for the last weeks that I wouldn't run into any of these people while I was out shopping.  I got nervous last week when I was out shopping for groceries. I thought I saw one of the Turkish men I know.  But it turned out to be just a regular white guy. 

When I talked to Ebru I gave no indication that I had once been angry.  I was surprised by the call.  I was also surprised how quickly I acquiesced to her invitation to come over for some Turkish tea and snacks.  She even said she would cook dinner if I liked, but I said I had already stuffed myself at China Star, so my stomach was not going to hold much else for the remainder of the day. 

For my 50th birthday the Turks gave me a surprise birthday party.  I was given everything they felt I liked including a Turkish tea pot.  I even was given a book of poetry and artwork by the poet Rumi who they refer to as Mevlana.  I know how to make Turkish tea not the coffee.  I really love the latter. 

I've long wondered why this people want me around and cling to me. They claim that they all love me.  Is love still possible in this world, I sometimes wonder?  I used to really believe in it.  How sad that I have become a skeptic. 

Yesterday on my 52nd birthday I only met with two Turkish female friends. Sezin was ill with a stomach bug, but she tried to spend some time with us.  Sometimes she'd go back to her room and sick.  Being with them brought back memories of Selcuk and Nur who lived in the same apartment complex before they moved to Buffalo, New York with their young son Burak last summer.  I was the last of their friends that they saw before they left.  They invited me over for dinner.  Selcuk had just finished defending his dissertation.  They begged me to come and visit them in Buffalo and say that we would all go over to Canada that is just next door.  We would also see Niagara Falls.  Selcuk is now an assistant professor and Nur has a position at a college as well.   I thought of them last night and rather missed them.  Their ghosts were there, and I asked about them.  I had been very angry with Ebru and all of the Turks but tea, cigara borek which is a Turkish pastry, and dessert had a way of softening me up.  She said that in Turkish culture it is difficult to stay mad at good friends.  If there is a split eventually the hope is to embrace again. 

I tried to explain what had happened to cause my loss of trust.  It was all filled with complexities because I am filled with complexities.  In the end I said that in the decade that all these Turks and other Muslims have come into my life and passed through, I have felt more like I a full human being than I ever had except when my maternal grandparents were alive and when I was in Botswana and was accepted by the Africans.  Americans black or white have never fully acknowledged my existence on the scale that these people have.  I wasn't seeking acknowledgement or attention, it came to me.  She told me the reason is because in many ways I am not the average American.  I never was because my grandparents never lost touch with what it means to be human.  They were still African in their ways because somehow they never lost touch with that what it is to be African and an people of the East. They left me with the best part of them like they left the best part of themselves with my mother. 

Is it good to forgive? Yes.  I am a Christian, and Jesus taught forgiveness.  I see how lack of forgiveness and jealously destroyed my father's family.   Is it good to trust?  Yes, but the world we live in is more dangerous and evil that it has been in world history.  But if we are to fully be alive, we have to try to trust somebody. 

Just before I was about to get up to leave my friends last night I found the fortune cookie in my purse...

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