Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's NIGHTMARE (I still can't believe happened!)

I went by the post office this morning to purchase and send a money order, and in filling out the money order on one side of the counter and giving it back to the cashier on the other side, I inadvertently left my wallet sitting on the counter (rushing!)... So, of course, not noticing, I took the next ferry and decided that I'd take a cab to campus so that I could arrive a bit earlier than the shuttle bus would have gotten me there. It wasn't until we approached building 1P in the middle of campus that I realized my wallet was missing, and of course the cab driver assumed I was trying to pull a fast one on her. (Strangely enough, during the ride I'd been reflecting on how I don't see very many West African women cab drivers, and wondering what her day to day experience must consist of, but I never actually said anything to her until we reached the campus and I realized my wallet was gone.)

We verbally went back and forth, me panicking that I'd lost EVERYTHING and her trying to call her dispatcher, whom she could not reach, to find out the procedure. I was explaining (in the most irrational way, I must admit!) that this was an emergency because I was just realizing that I'd lost my wallet and there was nothing I could do to pay the fare at the moment, but that it was of the utmost importance that I get out right then, a point for which she had little regard. She had the doors locked and was driving away from where I needed to get out. I asked over and over again for a card to the cab company so I could bring/send the payment later while demanding she let me out, but she would not oblige saying that she doesn't know me, she hears this all the time, and asking "what do you want me to do about this wallet that's missing?? You have to PAY!" I was like, "Sis, PLEASE, you got to help me, I need to get out! Give me a card anything but I have to get out right now, my wallet is gone! I need to get to the office! I don't know what to do! Let me OUT!!!"

When she threatened to drive me back to the ferry terminal I got the door open (from sticking my arm out of the window and pulling the lever from the outside) at a stop sign on the campus and jumped out of the cab! Before slamming the door shut I kept screaming back and forth to her for a card, but she couldn't believe I got the door open and was getting out, so she refused to give me anything that would indicate where the money would need to go later. I started walking across the campus, damn near having a panic attack, heart pumping way tooo hard, sweating and breathing hard, looking at the clock and realizing it was close to class time (and THIS JUST SO HAPPENED TO BE THE DAY my class was going to be EVALUATED by the chair of the English Dept!)

As I was trying my darnedest to get closer to the building where the Eng dept is, security stopped to detain me in the middle of campus and address the complaint the cabbie made against me, threatening to arrest me (can they do that?) if I continued to walk over to the English office and expressing that I could lose my job if I was arrested. I went back and forth with him! "I'm a professor here!!! (even though I look like a student!), I'm LATE to a class that begins in five minutes!! I'm being EVALUATED TODAY!!! My wallet is missing in Manhattan! The cabbie would not give me any info on where to send the money!!! I have to go to the English office and let the chair know!! I need to get to my class!!! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!" Just boiling over with emotions and panic and uncertainty......

ALL OF THIS was wayyyyyy too much in that moment: the trifecta of unfortunate circumstance (losing my wallet, jumping cab and being threatened to be arrested for "theft of service", and missing my critical evaluation class), so when I called the English office to explain to the secretary what was going on, the tears, snot and incoherent blubbering began! (1000x times more embarrassing than you could ever imagine!)

Security was like "Miss.... Professor...... calm done! PLEASE!!!" But, once I start crying, there's no calming down! (I'm blaming pms hormones run amok in combination with being a certified walking nerve ending that feels every emotion more intensely than one person should ever have to!) So, I didn't calm down. I stayed on the phone and kept trying to explain to the secretary what was going on.... I felt like an irresponsible loser idiot and couldn't figure out for the life of me how all of this escalated into the frenzied misfortune it seemed to be. I'd prepared my lesson for evaluation class days ago and put the finishing touches on my presentation package last night (a step that isn't even necessary, I just like to include it.) I'd woken up 30 minutes early and left before I usually leave my house to reach Staten Island with enough time to get my mind right and be ready for a vibrant class session. Even with leaving early, the train's inconsistent schedule got me to the ferry two minutes two late, and I missed the boat that would have gotten me to campus 40 mins early. THAT'S when I decided to go to the post office and the caper began....... That was definitely fuel to the emotional meltdown I was experiencing: How do you prepare for things to come out perfectly and they just disintegrate before your very eyes??? How do you find yourself in need of immediate help and be met with adverse action against you? In the middle of my tears, I had the very present of mind to pray a very simple prayer: Lord HELP ME! Please!! I need your help! Please, send someone to help me! I don't know what to do....

And He did just that. (Which is why the song "I Love the Lord, He Heard My Cry" has been resonating through my being since the ordeal took place....)

As events would continue to unfold, everyone at the college ended up being most gracious in helping me resolve the problem:

First, once the secretary understood what the problem was she sent over $40 to cover any problems when I only needed $16 to cover the fare. (They gave the driver $20 and I sent the other $20 back to her.)

Next, the security office tracked down my wallet at the post office, and notified them that I would be coming back to get it within the hour.

Once the co-chair heard what was going on, she came directly to the security office to lend her support and make sure I was okay. She said that it was no problem to cancel my class today and reschedule the visit, and that she totally understood as she loses things all the time...

And then there was George, the director of Security, who was the biggest angel of mercy for me. He took a vested interest in calming me down ("Wipe your tears, pretty girl!") with anecdotes about his wife losing house keys all the time for all the years they've been married, offered to drive me back to the ferry to go back over and get my wallet, gave me tips on what to do if I ever find myself in that kind of situation again (at least on campus), and even handed me a $5 bill for coffee ("Here, kid, get yourself some coffee and enjoy the rest of your day; life is too short to sweat the small stuff"). His kindness and compassion is akin to a favorite uncle, and I'm just extremely grateful to know this is the community of individuals I work with from week to week.

Once George dropped me off at the terminal, I went over to the cab dispatcher just to explain that as a person who takes a cab from that terminal to campus at least once every couple of weeks, I would never try to skip out on a fare. He was understanding and assured that everything was fine and we shook hands, but not before he explained the policy for not paying fare (which is for the driver to confiscate the cell phone as collateral and bring it to him until the fare is paid.... that's wild). And by the time the boat arrived, I was calm and collected, though extremely exhausted, physically and mentally.

I returned to the post office in lower Manhattan where my wallet was in the proper care of the sweetest post office attendant I've ever met (another angel). She assured me that everything was in there (which it was once I checked!), and even said that she tried to figure out a way to reach me but didn't see a contact # on my checks...) I thanked her, and it seems people who were standing in line were inspired by the small bit of details they were able to glean from our conversation.

When I think about the character of the people who helped me and the way that the circumstance was resolved, it reminded me of how, perhaps, things are within smaller towns, rather the BIG city. NYC has a rap for being a cold hard jungle, but it just proves to me that New Yorkers have hearts of gold when it comes down to helping someone who is in need.

So.....I still don't know how all of this happened... but I know that God's hand was on the outcome.

As soon as I got home, I had a small bite to eat and fell right to sleep..... because when reality is a nightmare, sometimes a sweet dream in a comfy bed is the antidote of choice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a lovely comment someone sent me today!

"I really like your blog and I really appreciate the excellent quality content you are posting here for free for your online readers. thanks."


i have (seemingly regular) "online readers"!!!!

yay! .... eBook, on the way!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

daydreaming of life aboard...

....as recently as a few months from now, since i have to give up my apt anyway.

where there's a will.....

Productive Leisure.

lol.... did I know THIS about SLC when I was attending????

A major component of the College's early curriculum was "productive leisure," wherein students were required to work for eight hours weekly in such fields as modeling, shorthand, typewriting, applying makeup, and gardening.

This may have something to with with my current goal of daily "productive leisure"! Only, my objectives don't include the activities listed above.

Sociolinguistics is...

...the effects of society on a language.

i'm intrigued because for every day that i go into my classroom to help revolutionize the English language skills (as it pertains to writing) of my students, i am constantly remarking on the *negative* effects of society impacting my students' ability to excel in the language on a very basic level.

dare i say that i am interested in the further study of sociolinguistics?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


(well I think so anyway!)

So, in my quest to get my writing students to increase their English grammar and writing skills as quickly as possible, I have decided that they will begin hand copying excerpts from interesting, well-written texts that indicate proper spelling, grammar, and sentence mechanics. They will be required to copy the text in its entirety in their best penmanship, making sure to write it verbatim. This will be given as homework, and I will encourage them to then read the passage aloud once they've written it, so that they will get a sense of what they've written in relation to how it was typed. I'm anticipating that it will A) allow them to pay more attention to grammar and mechanics, B) help them with reading comprehension by processing the text through writing it, and C) expose them even more to academic writing, especially since most of the reading we do is from the NYT.

I got the inspiration for this exercise from Malcolm X's "Coming to an Awareness of Language" where he explains the process by which he became a world class writer and orator. Because of this, my classes first task at hand copying "example texts" will be from this very essay:

It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education. I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote. In the street, I had been the most articulate hustler out there—I had commanded attention when I said something. But now, trying to write simple English, I not only wasn't articulate, I wasn't even functional. How would I sound writing in slang, the way I would say it, something such as, "Look, daddy, let me pull your coat about a cat, Elijah Muhammad—"

Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I've said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies.

I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary— to study, to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn't even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony school.

I spent two days just riming uncertainly through the dictionary's pages. I'd never realized so many words existed! I didn't know which words I needed to learn. Finally, just to start some kind of action, I began copying.

In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks.

I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I'd written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting.

I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words—immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I'd written words that I never knew were in the world. Moreover, with a little effort, I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didn't remember. Funny thing, from the dictionary first page right now, that "aardvark" springs to my mind. The dictionary had a picture of it, a long-tailed, long-eared, burrowing African mammal, which lives off termites caught by sticking out its tongue as an anteater does for ants.

I was so fascinated that I went on—I copied the dictionary's next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history. Actually the dictionary is like a miniature encyclopedia. Finally the dictionary's A section had filled a whole tablet —and I went on into the B's. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary. It went a lot faster after so much practice helped me to pick up handwriting speed. Between what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words.

I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened, I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk. You couldn't have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammad's teachings, my correspondence, my visitors... and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.

SO! I'm excited to see if they'll do it and to what degree this will affect their writing. I'm making it mandatory and telling them if they miss one assignment they will have to wait until June to test instead of the one coming up during the 2nd week of April. That will get them because they are REALLLLY jonesin' to take the test and get out of my class! I anticipate that it this will also help to train their eyes to know what to look for while proofreading.

So, wish us all luck!!!!! If this turns out to be a slam dunk, I'm about to doing this for the rest of my time as a writing professor!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

a bit of delirium


too tired to sleep. to sleepy to get up.

so, in limbo, i'm getting my parliament on.

thanks to pilgrim for hipping me to this.

in an unrelated thought, i really think i was born 20yrs after i should've been.

Friday, March 11, 2011

putting things into perspective

on a sunny day in rural japan an 8.something has hit, with a tsunami swelling onto the shore where farms and homes are. people don't even know what's on the way.

cnn is calling it historic. telling people who may not have access to hear them, that they need to move and need to move quickly.

so. i have to move in six months. i have time to prepare, pack my stuff, and move.

what am i complaining about?


where am i supposed to go now? with a letter to vacate the apartment by sept (which has been extended to oct), i'm completely spinning and feeling the same anxiety i felt back when i received the same type of letter when i lived in harlem.

only, the anxiety is not coming from the whole having to move. i mean, granted, i do HATE moving, but i can and will hire movers to make it easier. and now that i know i have six months, i can technically start going through things to get rid of that can make packing easier when it's finally time. and that's if i ACTUALLY take the opportunity to do so. procrastinator that i can, i rarely do things far in advance.

but it's the fact that my life and personal identity is so wrapped up in living on stuyvesant avenue. okay, maybe not my IDENTITY per se, but in a lot of ways i feel like this block is a part of the fabric of who i am. i love it here. i feel like my neighbors are family. the park across the street is a part of my enchanted well being. movies and music in the summer time.

so, i'm not looking forward to leaving. there's a house next door that's vacant. it has been for a very long time, years. about two... i want to move in there, but i have no way to know what's going on. i'll email the real estate agent and see if he says anything, but last time he was very tight lipped about the property and what was happening. as of now, i feel like that is my only bet in being able to stay here.

i don't think it's sucken in quite yet, that i'll have to move. it may not sink in until i find another apartment that i feel like can provide the same amount of magic.

maybe it's time to leave nyc altogether. i was saying that i wanted to move to london. and the only reason i decided against it was because i love my apartment in bk. but if the apt is giving me up, and, as it seems, a lot of other things are giving me up too, maybe it really IS time to go.....

but as of now, i will stay in nyc, at least through the summer. because summers in nyc are the best. maybe by then i will have some insight on where to go: stay in stuyvesent heights, leave bedstuy for crown heights or ft. green. move closer to one of the campuses... or finally move abroad.


in any regards, this sux. ;(

Monday, March 07, 2011

I finally commented on someone's post

of that Why You Aren't Married Article...

It ended up being an essay of sorts:

Back around Valentine's Day, everybody, their sister and their husband posted this article and there seemed to be a lot of support of it. While I found her article well written (I'm actually interested in reading her memoir), I can't say that I, or a number of my single friends, fall into these categories she characterizes. I can definitively say that I'm: Not a bitch, not a slut, not selfish in relationships, have an extremely positive self-worth, and am especially not a shallow liar! I love the shock value, in your face, tell it like it is way the author presents her arguments, HOWEVER, I'd like to counter that a number of women that often "land the husband" are, in fact, bitchy, are shallow, have lying tendencies, can be selfish, and just so happen to know how to seal the deal with THAT particular guy they're marrying. (Just like the author can make general over sweeping commentary on women, so can I!) If I did a case study on the people that I personally know across the country who are between the ages of 28 and 48, and just for fun let's say they're on their first marriage, from the outside looking in, they are ALL dealing with a number of the very issues the author underscores as reasons why middle age women remain single. My parents are marital counselors so I've heard stories ranging from self worth to personality issues amongst spouses (points 1 & 6); I have friends that deal with the infidelity of a spouse and choose to stay in the marriage (points 3, 4 &5); I know people who remain married despite the lack of intimacy and connection because it's a good arrangement (points 2 & 5); I see people who get married in one year and divorced four years later and get REmarried a year after that (which can be attributed to any of these points). I say all of this to support why I don't buy into what she is saying because I don't believe these are THEE REASONS why a large percentage of women in their 30s - 50s remain unmarried. Good writers can convince people of anything and perpetuate notions that aren't entirely valid.

Last week there was an interesting response to the first article, also on HuffPost, here's the link:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brienne-walsh/an-open-letter-to-the-wom_b_829378.html It may not have been as well written, but I appreciate it moreso because the points of the second article touch on a number of issues that many writers of Women's relationship columns don't highlight. Some women remain single because they choose to believe that with what a good majority of people settle for in marriage, they'd prefer the alternative (until they connect with a person in which they can exist in the most fulfilling way). Also, no one really thinks of the fairytale when it comes to marriage anymore (despite what people like to say). If you speak to a majority of individuals, men AND women, they're quick to make negative remarks about the marriage/commitment experience, even if they're joking. We are very cynical as a society/generation regarding life long marriage, even though we love romantic comedy movies. The second article also points out being the intelligent, attractive, down to earth chick, and NOT being the girl that was chosen (as the girlfriend, got the proposal, et al.), the shallow girl did. Go figure.

This is my favorite quote of the second article:
"...even though I know that marriage isn't a fairy tale, I'd still like to actually be madly in love with the person I'm going to do all of this sacrificing and fighting and laughing and struggling with. I've been in love before, with men who were arguably (and endearingly) more troll than Prince Charming, and I know it can happen again."

I'm not writing a response as a woman looking for a husband right now (I really enjoy being a free bird!) or bitter about the lack of commitment I've experienced in recent years (being a "it's better to love and lost" theorist), but as a woman thinking rationally about the situation and choosing to acknowledge that what the first author writes does not illustrate my experience. So, as Public Enemy said: Don't believe the HYPE!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

heavy heart.

i learned tonight
that another bright, charismatic, talented and enchanting life force has been taken all too soon. and by too soon i mean sooner than what anyone that encountered him would have ever imagined. the kind of person you'd expect to live to be a hundred and five, and have great great grandchildren to whom he gives enchanting tale after tale of all the wonderful things he did in his life and people he knew and helped and challenged and changed and loved. and now people are left broken..

one of which is a friend who loved this person dearly.

and now she's voyaging on a month long trip out side of the country

to honor the wanderlust of the love they shared.

and i pray she recovers

from losing the love of her life
from making the kind of connection you only see in the movies
or read about in the books
or see others with and hope you will experience.

i'm praying for her*
that she rises from the ashes of grief.

you just never understand why these things happen
the way they do.

*because, i know what it FEELS like to nurture a love for a particular individual (who just blows your mind in every way) in hopes that that nurtured love and friendship will turn into a lifelong exercise of connection. And I can't imagine it being gone in an instance by the separation of death. Not right now. Not ever... separation by non-commitment, i can handle. separation by spirit leaving body, *no words*