Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sun, Domesticity, and Love

Well the sun brings out the best in some folks, and I'm one of those folks. No matter what is happening, somehow my mood and outlook remain positive and optimistic when my face is kissed by the sun. Left the Fairfax County Courthouse on Friday in good spirits despite losing my hearing (yes, I'm was in contempt of court for not ponying up the equivalent of one-half the cost of tuition, room and board at University of Virginia for my lovely son attending Howard University, but that's another story that I probably shouldn't blog about less I get sued by my former husband, oh well).

I once read by some famous writer that if you write long enough, you are bound to anger some folks. I have had my share of angering folks: from my 5th grade student teacher in history who accused me of plagiarism to lawyers who think that if they send me a demand letter, I'm going to crawl in a corner and let them do with me as I please. Oh, well, having worked 10 years of my life for a circuit court judge, large defense firm, and bond attorneys, I'm not easily scared when lawyers send letters to me; which is why when I go in court I often win, but I often piss folks off. But it's all in the writing, which is why I tell my students, if you have good writing skills, they will take you far beyond the classroom. In fact, good writing skills are essential to surviving in this complex U.S. culture. But as for the outdoors and my life beyond legalities: hiking is my anecdote to boredom.

Still hiking. I've slowed down a bit this week. I need to let two blisters heal. So I'll meet my hiking club on the Mall in DC and look at the monuments. This is not really a hike, but a way to meet, look at the monuments, and stop for coffee. Walking the Mall will give my feet a break, but next weekend these old dogs are going to get a workout in the Shenandoah National Park. I can't wait to try out my new trekking poles in the mountains.

Loving domesticity! Anticipating my son's arrival home for the summer, I've opened up the kitchen again. My good friend Ricci has been allowing me to experiment on him with some new dishes. Since Ricci is a "food machine," he rarely turns down my dishes. I have found that since my son departed for the university, I am rusty in the kitchen. I rarely prepare a meal unless someone else is around to eat. So Ricci's presence helps me get back into the swing of things.

Glad the sun is back. Happy to be enjoying my living space. Hum, and Ghana is calling me for a summer excursion and conference!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Furloughs, Hiking, and Rainy Weather

What a wonderful weekend. It was nearly 70 degrees all weekend in metro DC, so I had an opportunity to hike through parts of Bethesda, Maryland and look at the Cherry Blossoms in the Kenwood neighborhood. Sunday I spent the day in Annapolis just soaking in the bay air coming off the water and remembering how much I love being near the water. Having grown up in Michigan, a peninsula (I have to often remind my friends of this), I grew accustomed to seeing water, lots of water since my parents were good about making sure that we spent a lot of time on the Great Lakes as children. When I go to Annapolis and stare out at the Chesapeake Bay, I feel as calm and confident as I do when I am on the ocean. Annapolis is by far my favorite city in metro DC: its sailboats (it is sailing capital of the U.S.), the 17th century architecture, and the cobblestone streets truly engage my senses. Yes, slavery existed in this town, but there is something about those native Black folks from Annapolis (the ones who know that they are direct descendants of African slaves and trace their original landing in the New World to Annapolis, MD) that despite all of the discrimination and the ever-pervasive color line, that continues to define their lives in the most insidious ways, that gives me some degree of solace, for they are so defiant, so sure of who they are and where they are from. I tease my friends from there, and tell them that they must have descended from the Fulani group because they will not bend, they do not yield. Recently, the city officials erected a sign designating the corner of West and Calvert streets as the Harlem of Annapolis. While this is a tribute to the artistic and intellectual endeavors and accomplishments emerging from this neighborhood, had anyone consult me, I would have reminded them that the U.S. African population in this area predates the movement of U.S. Africans into Harlem. But, hey, no one asked me. If you are ever in Annapolis, on the wall of the Stanton Center is a mural depicting some of the notable U.S. African residents of the Clay street community. Check it out for it is slowly being gentrified as a generation of elders born in the first decades of the twentieth century are passing and leaving their homes to their grown children who often see no value in keeping the property or returning to the neighborhood.

Hiking is going well. I am looking forward to my next strenuous hikes. I have my warm weather gear that friends recommended I buy. Everyone is swearing by Under Armour, so I purchased my first three pieces this past weekend. I still need to get some lightweight rain gear and trekking poles. In this past Sunday's Washington Post, there was an article about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I will be hiking a portion of the trail in a few weeks. The writer of the Post article suggested that you have trekking poles. So it is confirmed, I will shell out the bucks for trekking poles; besides, I must protect these knees on the descents. And thus far, I have been lucky: I still have good balance so I haven't fallen into any streams. But it is only a matter of time before I lose traction on a wet rock and crash into a stream. I have waterproof boots, but if the water is deep enough, my feet will be waterlogged, and since I almost always forget to carry an extra pair of socks, the rest of my trek will be very uncomfortable. Trekking poles will help me to maintain stability and balance!

Received notice a few weeks ago that I will be furloughed from Howard for two days; and, at the top of the agenda for the Budget Committee at the community college where I teach is furlough. I have to tighten the belt, bite the bullet, and continue preparing myself for this worsening economy. The recession is finally hitting metro DC. I am teaching far too many classes for any one person, which is why I have been so quiet on this blog. But I must do what I have to do in order to insulate myself from an economy that our president predicts will worsen before it improves. I believe him.

Read Paule Marshall's latest publication, Triangular Road: A Memoir (2009). It is a thin book that opens with a tribute to Langston Hughes for the support that he gave Marshall in the early part of her career. While the book allows a glimpse into Marshall's life, it is still too scant on the details and how she accomplished writing and rearing her son as a single parent. Perhaps this is one memoir in a sequel, and there is more to come from Marshall. Hopefully so, for I believe that Marshall is one of our under-celebrated U.S. African women writers.

I'm signing off: I have to teach this afternoon, and I have spent the last three hours in Starbucks grading essays and conferences. Spring will come and stay soon. I'm tired of the rain outside!