Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's really good?

After reading this post over at twenty-something's blog, I thought more on what I conceal and reveal. I'm a pretty private person anyway, and I'm more likely to be guilty of leaving questions unanswered than over-sharing. Then why are you even blogging, Teresa? Geez!

Is it dishonest? To only talk about the good stuff? I often feel conflicted about sharing good or bad news; it’s a wonder I have anything at all to say. Ever. When I have bad news, I think to myself “I don’t want to bring anybody else down, and people have enough problems of their own to be worried about mine.” When I have good news, I think to myself “Share it, maybe, but don’t oversell it. Sure, it’s great that this cool thing has happened for you, but nobody likes a blowhard. Besides, somebody somewhere is going through a difficult time and may not be in a place to receive your good news.”

It probably sounds ridiculous. Folks are plenty nice and supportive and all, but I don’t think I’m brave enough to be that vulnerable. And I try not to go overboard on the inspirational stuff either because…well, angst and disappointment are funnier, and I tend to mock the overly optimistic. (We’re not all running around here a bunch of little Matilda’s and Fire-starters, sorry to say.)

Does sharing only the good do more harm? Is sharing the negative necessary?

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'll Make You Famous

This must be the fun part about being a teacher – the ludicrous interaction with younger folks makes for great sound bites, or transcripts as it were. Below, a text message exchange between me and a younger one.

HER: Get a twitter

ME: U mean a twitter account? I’ve been trying not to.

HER: Why? I’m bouta delete my fcbk. I hate it. It took me 10 min to figure out how to log off.

ME: Oh no! I’ve heard that more ppl r opting out of fb in favor of twitter.

HER: Yea cause it’s simple. And fun. All u do is tweet in reply to someone or tweet about something stupid u saw or heard. Or anything really. And u could feel closer to celebrities because they really be on there.

ME: That’s what’s missing from my life! Feeling closer to celebrities!

HER: Haha. And being close to me.

ME: That’s a better reason. U should have led with that one.

*I’ve seen facebook abbreviated as “fb” but never “fcbk” – until now. I think I know why.

The Post Never Posted

The day before the grad school application was due, I wrote a mock post about how I didn’t get in and how I was okay with that. I felt like what the program offered was perfect for me but didn’t know if my recommendation letters arrived, and I was editing my writing sample and writing my personal statement (and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting) until just days before the entire packet was due.

I blame my duplicitous mind. On the one hand, I know that if something is meant for me I will have it. On the other hand, maybe this wasn’t for me. Maybe I was only meant to go through the application process to solidify in my mind whether or not I was dedicated to being a writer.

That post was filled with honest critiques of what I could have done better to prepare and affirmations about how not getting in isn’t the end of the world – very valid points, all. That post had flashbacks of my undergrad experience and uncertain musings about my future. That post was…eh…pretty well written, I guess. But I have no reason to publish that post, so you’ll have to take my word for it. ;)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lucille, which stands for light

Lucille Clifton has passed away. She leaves behind family and friends, powerful poetry and countless black women writers for whom she was a patron saint. I once heard someone say that she was a poet’s poet. I have read only a small portion of her work, but I see why. She seemed to look inward, to her own life and community and this very spiritual, political act of being a woman, for inspiration. A singular depiction of an isolated instance can reveal answers about the whole of humanity. Everything is everything.

Among the things I take away from her work, I take that I am enough. Lucille Clifton could have written of loftier things; she could have made references to things I know nothing of and flexed language that required a vocabulary lesson before I could get through a poem. She didn’t do that. She spoke to being human, of women and men and babies and families. She spoke of God and light and death and thriving – apartments, city blocks, neighborhoods. All she needed was right there. We were enough for her. We are enough still.

Lucille, “which stands for light”, shine always. Amen.

I've now added The Book of Light to my reading list.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It’s really cool working as a creative professional, I just have to say. I feel fortunate to be in a place where creative enrichment opportunities are not only encouraged but provided. This week, the artist, Will Cotton, came to give a lecture. I hadn’t heard of this artist before the email announcement that he was stopping by, but am I ever glad I went! He works in confection landscapes, but don’t let the saccharine subject matter fool you – dude is serious.

His work is so amazing! In the course of one hour, he explained his inspiration and motivation and his journey from the first “ah-ha!” moment with a Candyland game board to manipulating atmosphere and painting royal portraits several years later. All with his work being connected by a single thread – a licorice string, if you will. In addition to superior technical ability, his realist style and use of color blow my mind, and his work ethic is ridiculous. He builds the candy landscapes before he paints them. He talked about the meaning behind his work – our world of desire, indulgence and guilt; there's so much more to it than a gumdrop forest or a lollipop lane.

And because these words do the work so little justice:

Better yet, skip dessert, and just go to his website.

I have never seriously considered having a portrait painted until now.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sing a Song...

Black history month is a mixed bag for me. I feel it's important, but I always feel overwhelmed. Plus, every year I see the same bogus things. McDonald’s, Popeye’s and Walmart come to mind, and their special commercials that attempt to pander to the community while coming across racist as hell. “Hey Look, Black people! We know you – chicken, slang, break-dancing! Buy stuff!”

I can’t be too judgmental, though, because I feel guilty for not knowing more about the pioneers, inventors, innovators, artists, activists and achievers beyond the ones we typically highlight. You know who: MLK, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Jackie Robinson, Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver - to name a few. It’s not that these people aren’t important (hahaha I just said “these people” that’s funny), it’s that there are so many others who don’t seem to make the cut.

As a community who's spent so much time in the margins, it seems ironic that we would be so selfish with the cannon of “worthy Black Folk” when it comes to this month. Granted 28 days (or 29) is hardly enough to cover all of the history and inspiration, and I get that the knowledge building should happen all year round. But if the month is to raise awareness, why not raise the awareness of people who we’re not, well, aware of? So, my personal projects for this month are: 1) read unfamiliar works by familiar Black authors 2) talk to the elders in my family – they’re black history, too.

I’ll start with Cane by Jean Toomer, and I’ll call my grandma this weekend.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Kids these days...

The following is an exchange via text between myself and one of my adolescent relatives:

ME: I need an update. How r u doing? What's going on with school stuff? Non-school stuff?

RELI: I'm pretty sure I passed all my classes this semester... I just gotta nu fren named ______... & everything else still sux.

ME: Passed everything? Even ur "i-hate-this-the-teacher-is-wack-im-not-learning-anything-im-not-majoring-in-this-anymore" English class?


ME: ...???

RELI: Srry i was txtin my english teacher cuz i aint go 2skool 2day. He tol me i did really well on my exam. So yea...

ah, youthful optimism!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Grammys: High Notes, Low Notes

Yes, this is another awards show post.

I didn't even intend to watch the Grammy's. I did't know they were airing this weekend until a coworker hipped me to it on Friday before I left work. Generally, I'm into the TV and film awards more than those for music, but I decided to check it out. Not that what I think has any baring, but here are my personal high and low notes for the 52th Annual Grammy Awards:

High Note: Lady Gaga and Elton John opening the show. Loved it.

Low Note: Lady Gaga not receiving album of the year.

High Note: Pink’s performance.

Low Note: Anybody sitting underneath Pink’s wet n’ wild extravaganza.

High Note: “Earth Song” tribute. I love that song, and I think it actually made me fist pump like a champ.

Low Note: This wasn’t so much a low note as a rest or refrain. Beyoncé’s performance was solid but derivative. Why do I feel like I’ve seen in before? Because I have; talk about déjà vu.

High Note: Tarantino calling Em and Wayne “glorious bastards”.

Low Note: Well, everything else Tarantino said.

High Note: “21 Guns” performance with the Broadway cast = awesome

Low Note: Taylor Swift’s performance. Having Stevie Knicks was cool, but Miss Swift was off key and out of breath most of the time.

High Note: Bon Jovi. No fist pumping here, though it would have been appropriate, no?

Low Note: The sound kept crapping out during the Drake/Wayne/Em performance. Did the sound techs go home, or was that just my TV?

High Note: Maxwell – and with Roberta Flack, no less!

High, High Note: Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli. It was beautiful, and Mary holds her own with anybody. That’s diva.

What's with me and the lists? Good grief, Teresa, would it kill you to writing in cohesive, thoughtful paragraphs once in a while?