This book. Is. Absolutely. Brilliant.
“The Salt Eaters” is one of those books that took me years to read. For some reason, I always seemed to begin to read it and after the first few pages I had to put it down. Part because I couldn’t grasp the concept of what was going on and because I had too much going on in my life. See, this book demands you be abandoned when you read it. After finally reading the book, I realized it was difficult to read because it was personal. It felt like a conversation I would have with my girlfriends. It was “an older book” that was still relevant. It gave me the feel of a Zora Neale Hurston book or Toni Morrison. It is time bending and revolutionary.
I was introduced to Bambara around the time I began to consume myself with literature from black women. The summer going in to my sophomore year of undergraduate school when I sat on the library floor and found Sanchez, Shange, Giovanni, Walker, Brooks, Jordan, Clifton to name a few. I was a theatre student, who also loved poetry, scouring for material to perform and interpret for auditions and competitions. Bambara was one of the names that kept coming up so I kept her on my list of authors that “changed the game”.
Those who know me know that I am a thrift store book shopper. I never buy used books for over $3.00 and one day (years ago) I came across this book:
Continue reading Toni Cade Bambara, the scholar
“What was I thinking?” was the question I asked myself quite often over the past four months. This was how I felt…
I knew I was there! I knew I was sitting there and reading and walking around and driving, etc. Sometimes it was crystal clear and other times everything was a blur! But when I say I underestimated how much energy would be exerted working full-time and going back for future PhD studies…
shot it short,
miscued my intuition
I WAS BUSY!
A good busy. A purposeful busy. A busy that was full of intent but absolutely overwhelming at times. But I went back in searching for a language that boxed black women writers (in particular playwrights) within criticisms and criteria that hindered expansion and an honest representation. I chose Clark Atlanta University and their Africana Womens Studies Department.
I went into the program wanting to study black women in fiction literature. But decided to look into researching black women playwrights instead. Besides, theatre is my first love and this would give me a chance to honor the art form that got me started.
Last fall I also entered my second year of teaching elementary English Language Arts (ELA). So I confidently entered my fourth career change! But educating children during the day, on various learning levels, and then going to school in the evening until 7 and 7:30 p.m. could’ve taken a toll. And least we not forget the three teenagers living in my house!
Organization was crucial and kept me afloat. Sleeping when my body said “lay down” and closing my eyes when I was seeing double aided in my relationship with sanity as well. 🙂 After a decade or so being out of school, I managed to pull off some incredible grades! And on top of that, I put my money where my mouth was by setting an example of time management and effective studying skills for my teens.
Continue reading what was I thinking?…
There are several things I love about teaching but most notably I enjoy the time off during holidays and summer. (while still receiving a check 🙂 This is especially rewarding to me who spent years as an executive manager in retail and worked every holiday and most weekends.
Now I know you must be thinking, ‘my goodness Nikki, the school year just started didn’t it and you’re already thinking about time off?’ YES! You would be correct in with that assumption! And I think I have just the thing to help me get through the first half of the school year and my first semester in grad school.
A few months back, one of my friends exercised “staying in the moment” by writing daily things on what she most loved about herself. She did this for 60 days and surprisingly enough, she said the first twenty were very laborious. Laborious because she was having a difficult time discovering what she loved, or even liked on some days. The statements had to be instinctively linked about her and not some indirect love for something or someone else. She said this helped with her daily self care even if it was only 5-10 minutes a day. With my schedule becoming 12 hour days Tue-Thur due to school immediately after work, I thought this “I Love…” regiment would be ideal to ensure I think about me.
For the next 90 days, I am going to write in this little journal different things I Love about me. This is extremely horrifying to me because it involves commitment and I can be so anal (for lack of a better word) when it comes to committing to something and what loyalty means to me. But I am at a stop in my life where I am both an educator and a student, literally, and I am content. How do I insist that I remain present under both titles? By involving myself daily, by communicating with myself daily. Hopefully this 90 day venture will prove to assist with that!
Join me if you may! Also, after this 90 days, it will be Thanksgiving and time for a week break from both work and school 😉 Clever, huh?
I am re-posting this for those who have goals of leaving their full time jobs going into the New Year. I did it…
Just like in the movie, “Donnie Brasco”, Al Pacino’s character knew what “get sent for” meant. He had dinner with his wife, put his jewelry and money in a box and told her not to wait up for him tonight. I knew my last day of employment was coming. I could feel it. I could sense the detached nature from the next level of management. The comments of “I’ll call you right back” turned into “I’ll contact you in a few days.”
It had happened. Just like the laws of nature said it would! “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” Six months earlier I had lunch with two of my colleagues and showed them copies of my poetry and short story book. They were floored! I went on to tell them that prior to me moving to Atlanta to take on my sisters children, I lived my life as an artist. I felt relief as I confessed to them that I am a writer of many facets. Now caring for a family, a ‘sure bet’ check is what I needed to settle into my new role as a parent. During our lunch together I shared with them that I would be leaving our employer before the hectic holiday season arrived to once again pursue my life as an artist. I showed them a countdown widget I downloaded on my cellphone that festively displayed how many more days I had left. They were shocked but very happy for me. I now had support from two women whom I admired and trusted.
I owed this same conversation with one of my managers who I’ve worked with since my first day with the company. A brilliant talent and inspiring leader, she worked her way through several positions in the company and excelled at them all. I brought her copies of my book and shared with her that was the “real me”. She was not surprised! She told me she could tell I had something else to me because of my colorful emails I would send out to the team about contests, etc. Since she had been with me from day one I wanted to let her know of my plans of leaving so she wouldn’t be blind sighted. To my surprise, she had plans of leaving too! As a matter of fact, I had to almost beg her not to leave before me and ask if we could agree to leave the same month. Wheesh! She agreed.
Continue reading A Week Late, Dollars Saved
My mother taught me how to make a living.
My father showed me how to create a life to live.
She was deemed responsible.
He was deemed selfish.
… I want to be selfishly responsible from here on out.
We need passion for life
We need passion like ancestral sweat on jungle spring African violets
We need passion like the quieting of an infant’s cries for his mother’s nipples
like the drying desire to drink
let us do what we do best
detach from the world and all it has to offer
like the fall of sky tall pine trees
like a Muslim nauseous at the smell of swine
let us get away from here!
Like we did the first time
let us hungrily read Genesis to Revelation
and discover one another
let me be imperfect
not what the music and magazine say
but who I am this very second
the extent of me and you in divine disguise
the scent of me in heat for some passion
Like a 4th of July dog scratching against the screen door
We need passion for life.
We need passion like surrendering in a rain shower,
like the uncontrollable moans of a multiple orgasm
let me get this out!
let me get this out!
like the vulgar urges of bulimia
let me get this out!
I yearn this
I yearn this like Thursday evening paychecks
want me like the smell of your mother’s kitchen on Sunday
protect me like a father holding his child’s hand
let us discover God together
We need passion
Like the heaving chest of a woman giving birth
Like the finger sore of BB strumming the blues
Like a poem with a thousand metaphors
Let us make love over and over and again
We need passion like, like, like…right now.
Many people will read this and immediately begin to think from a religious perspective and ignore the transformation that can be experienced from this mantra.
The politics of religion is about mind and crowd control, not freedom or spiritual growth. And perhaps this is where the frustration begins. Instead of viewing the glass as half empty people will view it as constantly starting over.
Those hard times are where you are burning to rise. Where you should allow yourself to come undone. Only to give birth to yourself again. Think differently… think spiritually.
I’ve been writing.
writers write. writers read.
One of the roles of the artist is to re-create life’s perception within a societal context. Some say the conditions of the moment define the creation of art through political, cultural and religious/philosophical terms. With that, there will always be an audience for our voices, so why do we torture ourselves with endless edits and insecurities of not being artistically accepted?
So many of us sit surrounded by genius pieces of art inspired by our immediate communities. Award winning poems and best selling novels. We have garage spaces and storage units full of paintings and sculptures that depict an opulence of emotions. And the fear of our vulnerability being labeled as weak disables us from sharing. And the masses of our culture in the states does not support our profession so we get a “regular job”. And turn our passion into a past time or extra way to make money.
Everyday of the week. In every situation in life. The individual in the position to persuade or that perceived the story will always have an audience that understands and supports them. As artists, we have to identify when in our lives we began to believe no one would appreciate our art and stop this. Because no matter what the discourse is from the expression, it will be perceived by someone that understands and folds our endless nights.