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Monthly Archives: December 2010

Goals for Twenty-Eleven (2011)

My list from last year was pretty successful. I accomplished pretty much everything. I did not go to Brazil because I decided I Haiti was a better choice. I also did not spend as much time with the elderly as I said I would. Nevertheless I think I did a pretty good job and had an amazing year. I laughed, cried, loved and most importantly was open to the possibilities. So here goes my list for 2011…

1.       Travel to 5 new countries.

2.       Perfect my Spanish. Start learning Creole.

3.       Volunteer. Get matched with a little sister. Volunteer at the Juvenile Detention Center and teaching English as a foreign language.

4.       Be more family oriented.

5.       Present at four conferences. At least  one national conference. I have already been accepted to one conference in March.

6.       Get something published in an academic journal.

7.       Spend more time naked. Maybe go skinny dipping in the ocean. Or find a Black nudist colony.

8.       Spend more time on my creative writing.

9.       Strengthen and nurture my relationship with my family, friends, lovers, ancestors and God.

10.   Smile more. Listen more. Dance more. Laugh more. Learn more. Flirt more (if that even possible)

11.   Tithe more consistently and faithfully.

As always I am striving to live outside of the box and remain open to all life’s possibility. You know just be positive and grateful about this life I am living.

As I typed this last night after dinner, Chris from Sweden read my list. He decided to make his own list of goals. My favorite goal of his was #3 “Have more unprotected sex with random women. (preferably irish)”. The rest were tamer like spend time with family, work less, etc. He was dead serious about #3.

I hope you had a wonderful 2010. I hope if you made any goals for 2010, that you made strides towards achieving them. I pray your 2011 will be better than your 2010 and better than even you can imagine.

With lots of love and the last time this year                               .

~Just Tab.

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Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Holidays, Learning bout Tab!, Randomness

 

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They are growing on me…

I updated the last blog with more pictures. I will add more to this one later.

From my last blog, I can understand how one would think that I did not like white people or foreigners.  This is not true. The man I voted for president mother was white. That man also might be a foreigner (has anyone seen his birth certificate), those two facts prove that I am open to outsiders and whites. Basically what I am trying to say they are winning me over.  Living in a house with 10 people for 5 days will do that to you. We spent the first couple of days when I arrived here just chilling because of the Christmas holiday. On Monday it was work time. I helped construct a playground for children at an orphanage. It was hot and involved a lot of manual labor. I was so impressed by the interaction between the other volunteers and the children. They played and joked with the kids. Shared their water. They were amazingly comfortable in the environment. And they worked. And worked. Drenched in sweat but remained focused on getting the job done without complaints. Working with them over the past couple of days made me respect many of them -their character just shined through them. Of course, there is ONE person who is about 15 min away from bring the devil out of me. I question her motives for even being here. I guess it’s not her fault, white guilt and the need to “save” things are hard issues to conquer- I guess. I am in Haiti because I want to be. I am not here to save the poor Haitian people. They don’t need my help. They will be ok regardless. I think it’s rude to come into someone’s country or home and tell them how things should be run.  Do not come to Haiti or some other “disaster” area to prove to yourself you are a good person. If you are not a good person at home I doubt spending whatever amount of time “saving” others will make you a good person.

On Sunday I turned the big 2-4! “I am really too young to be feeling this old”. Every year I get older I still feel so young compared to people in my life. I am trying to play catch up and it is not working. I went to a Haitian church on Sunday. Johnson had to walk me over because Evans overslept or whatever. Church starts at 6AM and I have no idea when they end because I left at 9:20. . It is quite an experience to attend a service conducted in another language. My neighbor kept sharing her hymn book and bible with me; I didn’t know how to tell her I did not speak Creole. Church is pretty simple- I understood Hallelujah and Merci Senor. I repeated those phrases, stood when everyone else stood and raised my hands in the air. I enjoyed the worshiping part, it was individual yet collective. Everyone appeared so connected with the worship experience. They did not even seem to mind my blue jeans, purple shirt and pink Converses.

After church I went to the GRU compound for dinner. While there I received a call from Evans who overslept and apologized for not taking me to church. He told me he was at the EVD compound waiting for me. I ate breakfast and came back to EVD about an hour later- to an awaiting Evans. He apologized again of course I pretended to be mad. He asked me could we still hang out that day- I had nothing better to do so I agreed. He told me he had to go to his house first then we could do whatever. We took a tap-tap to his neighborhood then walked about 15 min uphill to his house. While walking I begin wondering was it smart for me to go to a strange area, in a foreign country to the home of man I barely knew. I man I knew had a crush on me. I tried to pay attention to the route we were taking just in case he tried something.  Once at his home I met his friends and sister. His sister was getting her weave sewn in. Evans told me he had a surprise for me and came back with a gift, strawberry champagne and cupcakes. He remembered my birthday! Maybe I am easy impressed but I thought it was the sweetest. I spent the rest of the afternoon talking to him, his sister and his neighbor. His sister told him I reminded her of an old friend of theirs. She was a lesbian- Blank Stare. His neighbors tried to impress me with their hip-hop knowledge while free-styling for me. They made lunch for me to try “real” Haitian food.

I learned a lot about Evans. He is such a sweet guy. He is in his final year of law school, speaks 7 languages and reads 8 languages. The kid is pretty smart. This explains why he is enamored with me. We took a motor bike back to EDV where they had brought a cake for my birthday. I haven’t had a birthday cake since I was 7. So there you go. My 24th birthday. Not a bad start to what will be a wonderful year. I am toying with Cuba or the Dominican Republic for next year.

Yesterday night I actually participated in the movie night! Mostly because they watched a romantic comedy AND I stayed up to talk to them instead of going to bed at 7:30! Are you proud of me? I still think they are dirty and they think I am obsessed with being clean. I am also doing really good picking up some basic Creole phrases.

My body is extremely sore from work and my really uncomfortable bed. I am about to get dress and go to work. I just said good-bye to two of the  EDV volunteers who are now off to the Southern part of Haiti. After work Evans is taking me to the market. Yesterday, he gave me a cell phone since he told me he wanted to be in contact with me while I am here.  I am really going to have to lay off of the flirting/ charm. I have this gift and curse of making people think they are the only one who matters in my world. I am not trying to make have this man fall in love with me.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2010 in Travel

 

Noel- Haiti

*Will update with more pictures later- the internet sucks here*

Merry Christmas. Yesterday morning I woke up to the sounds of the goat in the driveway of the home I am staying in. The goat was purchased for $100 USD on Thursday. This morning I awoke to the news that the goat has been killed. Somewhere out back they are cutting the goat up in preparation to cook it for Christmas dinner. I am not sure how I feel about an animal that I have previously seen alive.

Welcome to Haiti.

I arrived in Haiti Thursday morning into the fame Port-au-Prince airport. Crazy and hectic, while still beautiful. As I waited patiently for my bags, my swag was cool and relaxed like I did this a million times. I received my bags and left the crowded baggage terminal and step foot into. Waiting for me was the woman in charge of volunteers for EDV. She was a German woman, who currently lived in the UK named Rebecca. She held a sign with my name on it. When I approached her she was talking to another volunteer from another organization that was stranded. I grateful jumped into the tap-tap they had waiting for me and arrived at the house which would be my home until January 1st. She gave me the basic orientation and the tour of the house. I picked out where I wanted to sleep.

We went to the Grass Root United base (where I was originally supposed to stay) and toured their grounds. The volunteers there live in tents with no running water. Fun.

I got some money changed and went back to the compound. By then there were other volunteers there. I joined a man name Julio from Peru and his friend who was traveling with him from Indonesia to get food. Apparently they meet three weeks ago in Peru and he invited her to come to Haiti with them. Our lunch was chicken with rice and peas (a familiar menu).

After lunch we rode a tap-tap to an orphanage to drop off a water filtration system for them and have an art day with the kids.

When I arrived there were kids of all ages everywhere.

The kids where housed under a big tents with mattresses strewn about. On the other side of the tents were the classes that EDV had just constructed for them. While there I kicked myself for not learning French/Creole. The kids were great though, very happy. They were enthralled by my camera and the ability to see their image reflected on my screen. “Photo, Photo” many of them shouted at me. A tad bit demanding but I obliged. A couple knew some English and asked me my name. The good thing about kids is that a smile can go a long way to cross language boundaries.

Next to the orphanage was the former worship center. The roof of the dome collapsed during the earthquake. Rebecca told me the man in charge of the orphanage was also a respected Voodoo leader in the community. Because of his position in the religion the community provides the children with food and they are well-fed. I was bit annoyed with the way she spoke of Voodoo. She talked about demolishing the worship site in order to provide a better place for the kids to sleep. My question to her was: “So where would the people worship at?”

After we left the orphanage we went back to the compound. The cook made dinner- chicken with rice and peas, fried plantains and some sort of pink cooked salad that I didn’t eat. The food was good and filling. Oh by the way- there are a total of 10 people living on the lower floor of this house. They all wanted to watch a movie. I wanted to be alone. I took a shower hoping they would start the movie and forget about me. Instead they waited for me to finish shower to watch the movie “Sherlock Holmes” (NOT a romantic comedy). I sat with them for a while then after falling asleep on the couch I went to bed. I keep waking up to the sounds of partying, a church service and some kind of chanting in the dead of night. I have no idea what was going on in the streets of Haiti at 2 AM.

Everyone was very excited about Friday, we were going to the beach. Most of the volunteers had been there for a couple of weeks and needed a break. The EDV volunteers were joined by several local volunteers and EDV staff on the trip. We rode on a tap-tap for about an hour and half through downtown Port-au-Prince outside of the city to a private beach area. Mostly foreigners and wealthy Haitians frequented this place. Since I am not a fan of getting into large bodies of water, I spent the day listening to my music and reading Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat and Does your mama know? (spending special attention to the stories about Haitian woman. I enjoyed reading writing about/by Haitians while admiring the beauty of the Haitian coast. I kept pretty much to myself when everyone was playing soccer and other games. When all the EDV people were by the beach I went out to basketball court to talk to Evans (our translator) and Carlos. Evans couldn’t understand why I did not want to play sports with them. I tried to explain to him I was pretty and did not like sweating. After kicking it with him for about 30 min he told me he was surprised I was talking because I had been so quiet during the ride. I did not know how to explain to him I have nothing to say to the European/ White Americans that comprised the EDV volunteers. The ones who swear they know everything about Haiti and sometime speak about the country in a semi-condescending way. The ones who have been here for six months, but do not speak the language at all. While EDV is a better NGO than most- it still has that aire of the white privilege and the stink of white guilt circling around it. Eventually I joined Evans, Carlos and Chris (German) for a game on two on two. Surprisingly my basketball skills were on point that day. Evans and I won 10-0 (4 of those points were mine). Evans invited me to walk around the neighborhood of the beach with him and Carlos and Cousin. On the way back Evans I asked Evans to take me to church with him on Sunday. Evans had been asking about my boyfriend or lack of one- I explain to him I don’t have the time or patience for them. He asked me did I want to hang out with him after church, I’m assuming he meant hang out like a date or something. I said yes. Why not?

We left the beach and return to the compound for dinner. They all wanted to go to a Haitian club. I was toying with the idea of going, but I did not really want to be in a club with them- A whole bunch of Euros/ White Americans. They invited some other people from other NGO’s over to drink. From my bed I heard them discussing going to the club and leaving. When they returned I could tell they were angry and somebody had left them making them pay a crazy amount to get home. Some of the volunteers were lost and scared since the club was in a “bad” part of town. I could hear Kris talk about how the worse thing that could happen to a woman is to be raped, while a man has to worry about being killed. That you could get over rape but not murder. Someone mention that I was sleeping and they should move away from the window to the bar not to wake me. I was even more thankful that I did not join them. I am spending very little time talking to the EDV people.

The people I care to connect with are the local Haitians.Many who assume I speak Creole because I look Haitian. The ones who know I am from Fl, don’t understand why my Haitian friends in the U.S. never taught me Creole. Shame on them. Shame on me. Overall things are pretty good. Still getting use to this communal living. I never stayed this close to so many people. I will never understand how people without running water can smell better than Euros/Americans with running water.

Anyways- The weather is beautiful. I am in a country with beautiful black people. Have a Merry Christmas. Happy Birthday Baby Jesus.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2010 in Holidays, Travel

 

First Semester Re-cap

As of this past Wednesday, I am officially done with my first semester as a PhD student. They say the first semester is the hardest- check back with me when I am finished and I will confirm or deny that.  What I can do is give you a couple highlights and low lights of the semester.

1.       I decided to focus my final project in my Dramaturgy class on The Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix. Upon contacting the Executive Director of the theatre company he provided me and my friend with comp tickets to see their season opener, Fences. That night, Asantewa and I not only saw an amazing show, we met two really cool people. One of which, was Nitty. Over the course of the last three months she has become a valuable asset to my life in Arizona. Her mother has officially adopted me as her third daughter and her son has decided he “loves” me. She has a really beautiful and amazing soul. When I actually got the chance to interview the Executive Director of The Black Theatre Troupe, he offered me the chance to work as the Dramaturg on their upcoming production of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs From The Table of Joy.  This is an amazing opportunity to work on a professional theatre company’s production in Phoenix.

She was sick on Thanksgiving

2.       School is hard. It is a doctoral program -it should be hard. I like challenges, so my initial attitude was bring it on. Most days I was good, but there were some days where the pressure was intense. My confidence took such a hit this semester. I keep asking myself why was I here. Was I smart enough? I am a 23 year old black woman, I barely take myself seriously. Why would anyone take what I had to say serious? I was always reticent to discuss articles in class because what if I didn’t get the right meaning? Or understand it in a way that everyone else did? I study different, I think different from these white people who are my professors and classmates. I discovered that the remnants of my speech impediment as a child continues to make me self-conscious about my articulation as an adult. At points I didn’t think that my world and academia were at all compatible. I would get so nervous about assignments. I would know what I wanted to write but I would get so overwhelmed that I couldn’t think or write. I would just go to sleep. Shower. Do anything not to think about the task at hand. Then I would wake up and somehow get the motivation or encouragement to get my work done. I always have to fight the voices telling me I can’t do this because I am young, black and woman. But those are the reasons why I have to do this.

3.       Phoenix has a ridiculously small Black population and I really like Black people. Unlike Philadelphia, I can go up to people here and say “Hey, you are Black and so am I. Let’s be friends”.  As crazy as it sounds it works and I met a lot of people. One of my favorite people that I met this way is a boy name Courtney. I saw him at Target and as he walked out the store I approached him. He gave me his number so we could hang out. The first time we hung out we watched Beyonce videos at his friends house before hitting up the club and discovering we had the same birthday’s (Dec 26). Living here has made me very friendly. I am starting a blog PhxBlkSwag in dedication to all the Black people I will encounter in AZ.

4. The Friday before school started, I met a wonderful person. Over the course of a month we became really good friends. Intense and fast friends. So we all know how that ended, right? Sometimes friendships and relationships can act as mirrors, not everyone is happy with their reflection. My ability to be an open and honest individual made her feel some type of way about her ability to do the same. At a point I thought she was a person that I could trust and who cared about me. Lesson learned: someone who does not love themselves cannot love others. That was a rather painful lesson to learn, but a valuable one. I wish nothing but love and the best for her. “Remember that the universe has bigger plans for you than those you have for yourself. You can’t take everyone with you. Send them off with love and well wishes and access to their own plans but send them off nonetheless. Not everyone is a friend but nobody is an enemy. Not everyone belongs in your heart but nobody is heartless. Just hurting. Allow them their hurt. Don’t let them hurt you”.

5. My support system has been amazing. I have two other friends who started PhD programs this fall, their support from the East Coast has been invaluable. Inside the School of Theatre the other PhD’s have been awesome and really provided encouragement and shoulders to lean on as well as great advice. My friends outside of academia- have been a welcome distraction from the Ivory Tower. Of course, my parents have been great. My little brother has been a standout. He provides an outlet for my frustration, so much support and the kid believes in my abilities so much that I start believing in them myself. I am so grateful that he came and visited me in Arizona. I barely complained about cooking and cleaning up for him. And of course, my girl Isis- she stays up with me during my all nighters. She begs for walks while I am trying to get my reading done for class.

1st year PhD's

2nd year PhD

I am home in Florida. Relaxing. Seeing my family. While also preparing for my next adventure…

Living and Loving life. Living my life. Loving who I am.

I don’t want be any one but

~JustTab

 

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Ms. Edwards

Really random things make me sad.

I didn’t know this woman.

I never met her.

But I did see her on Oprah. She always seemed to be smiling.

Maybe its because she is someone’s mother

Or the fact that she had a trifling ass husband.

It could be that I believe cancer has already claimed too many people lives.

I read that the cancer had spread yesterday to her liver and her family was rushing to be by her side. I said a little prayer and kept it moving…thinking she would have just a little bit more time.

Turns out her time ran out this morning. I hope nothing was left unsaid or undone.

My God bless and keep her family. I am not as confident about the European life cycle. Do they join the ancestral world? Wherever it is that white people who believed in whatever she believed in go when they die, in the most non-facetious way possible I hope she gets there safely.

Elizabeth Edwards 1949-2010

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2010 in cry baby, politics

 

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World AIDS Day. 2010

Today is World AIDS Day.

Why I care-the segment of the population that’s most affected are People of Color, Black Woman and Men who have sex with Men. Those account for the majority of the people that I love as well as myself. AIDS affects me because it affects those around me.

It still surprises me the amount of my friends and family that play with their health, by engaging in unsafe sexual practices. Protect yourself. Love your self.

According to the CDC’s twitter page1 out  16 Black men will be diagnosed with HIV and 1 out of 30 black women will be diagnosed with HIV.

As a community we need to talk about this disease. You might not be infected but we are all affected. Shake the stigma.

Two very different clips about HIV/AIDS

Be safe. Practice Safe Sex. Get tested…Spread the word. YOU ARE LOVED

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2010 in Uncategorized