When I started this blog, I included posts of cartoons I drew about my writing life. As I spend this school year away from my little ones, I've indulged my interest in drawing a bit more. The second picture is one I drew this semester and that I'll give to my son for Christmas. I looked at an old picture of him, tried to draw it and although it doesn't really look like him, I like the result anyway.
The top picture was drawn by my daughter and I've framed it for her as a Christmas present. I'm her mom but let me be the first to say that I think she's brilliant.
I realize that I'm becoming more interested in visual images as a form of expression which may explain the ridiculous amount of movies I've watched since July. I also had to teach a course that studies film as text so that's part of it, too. While I'll never stop loving words or needing to read eloquent writing like that found in James Baldwin's essays, I'm really digging this experimentation with visual technique. I think my technique will eventually fall somewhere between graphic/animation and realism. The process of drawing feels less exhausting than writing, and more rewarding as the image slowly emerges from the page.
So, I've been watching a LOT of movies lately. I won't embarrass myself by giving a count (although I know what it is. I need a life. For real.) I've seen some really great dramas, documentaries, and comedies. But nothing compares to this 5 hour movie about renowned Venezuelan terrorist, Ilich Ramirez Santos a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal. The movie is based on a French documentary of Carlos which aired in 1995 and is included (in French, no subtitles) as the fourth disc in the collection.
I have not been this amazed by a dramatic narrative since The Wire. I could not stop watching. It was also interesting to view this story of terrorism-in-the-name-of-fighting-imperialism given the current nonviolent liberation movements happening here and abroad.
And, oh my god, Edgar Ramirez, the actor who plays Carlos is unbelievably, unforgettably sexy. An interview with Edgar Ramirez about the film can be found here.
What is up with Gloria Cain and Vanessa Long "standing by their men"?!? Long has decided to go ahead with her divorce after first telling the press that she was filing, and then hours later saying that, No, she wasn't filing. Now she's filing again. But her flip-flop is disheartening to watch because it suggests that she's negotiating with her husband's camp which is only concerned with Bishop Long's reputation, wealth, and power. Gloria Cain, too, had to stand, disgraced, on a dais with her husband in order to save his pecuniary interests post-campaign.
Yeah, I know that both women may have their own financial interests in not destroying their husbands' careers, but THAT makes me even sadder because of what it says about the imbalance of power in their relationships.
Photo of Herman Cain courtesy of The Guardian
Photo of Eddie Long courtesy of EURWEB
Unbelievably sad news that Wangari Maathai has passed on. I read her memoir earlier this year and was moved by her activism which included imprisonment, but also by her stories of being a mother, an academic, and someone who survived a rather ugly divorce. There is no way to talk about her strength and vision without resorting to hyperbole. May she rest in peace, and may we never forget her.
I am in Tacoma, Washington for two years, teaching at the University of Puget Sound. In addition to living in a new location, I am without family for the first year and it will be interesting to see how this affects my writing. No more excuses! I'm hoping that I will write a lot and be inspired by the landscape, the ocean and new colleagues. These are pictures of Mt. Rainier taken from a Target parking lot, a pier on the sound, and the sidewalk on Union where I like to take morning walks.
I am at the age where the death of friends and relatives is not shocking, but that doesn’t make the loss any easier. Today is my godmother’s funeral at Mayflower Congregational Church in Detroit. As I try to make peace with this reality, here is what I want you to know about her:
Her name is Velma Lewis Ward.
She was born December 27, 1929 in Salem, Michigan.
She was not raised by and did not know her parents.
She was raised on a farm by a black man, born in 1892, who was a gentle spirit and deaf later in his life. Everyone called him "Gramps."
Aunt Velma milked cows as a girl.
She attended the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.
She had freckles, wore glasses, and had thick, beautiful hair.
She is survived by one child, a son, whom she raised alone.
As a girl she wanted to be a doctor.
A counselor at her high school, Northville High, suggested a career in cosmetology instead.
Aunt Velma was one of the first black women to get a PhD in biochemistry from Wayne State University School of Medicine.
She thought that the failure to use black people in medical trials had negative effects on our health and the diagnosis of illness in our community.
She said “molecules don’t give you the whole picture” of a person.
She became a Medical Anthropologist.
She did research on coronary disease in older African Americans and contributed greatly to understanding the role of ethnicity in the health care experience.
She never talked about her accomplishments.
She had friends from all walks of life.
She believed in astrology.
She didn’t really care for the shape of her nose.
She was a feminist.
She authored or assisted in numerous scientific publications.
She told me as Capricorns we were susceptible to problems with our joints.
Upon seeing my oldest child as a baby, she remarked, “He’s perfect. Keep that formula!”
She researched the cultural impact of the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings.
She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
She was the first African American to address the Society of Biological Psychiatry.
She had an uncanny ability to remember many facts, data, details, and dates from the recent past and decades before. Her son has this ability also.
She was a member of The Royal Society of Chemistry as a Chartered Chemist.
She lived for decades in a house on Littlefield in Detroit.
She loved music.
She said in a 2004 interview, “Whatever talents you have, you need to use to the best of your ability for humanity.”
She mentored and influenced many younger people.
Her voice was soft and you had to lean in to hear her when she spoke.
She left this earth on September 2, 2011.
The answers she received were overwhelmingly "yes," but I expect that soon, the majority of responses to that question will soon be "no" or "meh. who cares." This is the age that we're in, we inhabit both real and virtual worlds, all of us celebrities with our own fans, followers, and headshots. Why shouldn't we expect people to read about us online, to see what we're up to and who we've posed with in pictures? In fact, shouldn't we be flattered that they're thinking of us at all?
Thinking of someone is one thing. Looking for all their info is stalking them from afar.
Not that I don't do it, too, but it does concern me. I don't worry about my own privacy--I'm grown--but I do worry about my tween who is on XBox Kinect with people he's never met, people who live in different countries all over the world. My kid knows enough not to play video games with adults (and adult XBoxers don't like playing with kids anyway) but he doesn't understand yet how this anonymous interaction could come back to bite him in the butt.
For example, I've witnessed him engage in heated competitions, including smack-talk, with other game players. I've overheard he and his friends sit in front of the tv screen and lie to the other players about their names and ages. What happens when an insult is taken personally and someone hacks into your XBox account (is this possible?) or finds out who you are and starts to harass you? Stalking from afar (what we do when we google others) is one thin line from harassing from afar.
Not that old school bullying can't happen. (I received a typed letter in the mail the other day. No return address. It read: "Dog Owner, Put a lid on that little dog of yours. Please. And welcome to the hood.")
The difference is that I probably know the idiot who sent that letter. The letter writer is someone who lives in my neighborhood.
But who are the cranks and weirdos who are watching us unseen? This is one of the real dangers, I think, of so much of our information being accessible to the public at large.
Not that Facebook cares about our privacy.
So much of who we are today is how we present ourselves through different media. You can ask any real celebrity what the price is for that kind of access.
Credit: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images
These photos are taken from the front page of today's New York Times online. My students are writing ekphrastic poetry based on war images. These pictures of a people's revolution surely inspire words.
F204. African American Writers on Obama. (Lita Hooper, Renee Simms, Tara Betts, Antoinette Brim, Demetrice Worley) 44 on 44: Forty-Four African American Writers on the 44th President of the United States is an anthology of poetry, essay, and creative nonfiction based on the election of the first African American president of the U.S. The anthology includes contributors’ reflections of the historic election of Barack Obama. Several contributors will read from the anthology and engage in a discussion with one another and the audience.
Virginia C Room
S180. [WITS Alliance]—We Were All Poets in the 3rd Grade: What Happened? (Jack McBride, Janine Joseph, Mary Rechner, Renee Simms, Giuseppe Taurino, Jeanine Walker) WITS Writers will discuss their paths as writers and teachers, from when they fell in love with writing, how they were discouraged or made to feel anxious about the process, and how they subsequently came back to it. Investigating why K-12 students go from a willingness to engage creative writing (and all it entails: vulnerability, creativity, risk) to being afraid or indifferent, panelists will explore best teaching practices for re-engaging students and collaborating with classroom teachers.
This memoir about Eastern versus Western parenting strategies has been getting a ton of publicity. The smartest response I've read is over at Buddhafun (and not just because I love Stephanie Han and her writing, though I do.)
Here's a snippet of what Stephanie had to say:
Check out the rest of the blog essay here