Wednesday, January 6, 2021

They Say...

"This is AMERICA!" 

Well, indeed, 

This is America.            This is America.        This is America.       

This is America.            This is America.        This is America.        

This is America.            This is America.        This is America.          

This is America.            This is America.        This is America. 

This is America.            This is America.        This is America. 

This is America.            This is America.        This is America. 

This is America.            This is America.        This is America.        

THIS is America.          THIS is America.     THIS is America.

THIS is America.          THIS is America.     THIS is America.    

THIS is America.          THIS is America.     THIS is America.

THIS is America.          THIS is America.     THIS is America. 

THIS is America           THIS is America.     THIS is America. 

THIS is America.          THIS is America.     THIS is America. 

THIS is America.          THIS is America.     THIS is America. 

This IS America!           This IS America!      This IS America!

This IS America!           This IS America!      This IS America!

This IS America!           This IS America!      This IS America!

This IS America!           This IS America!      This IS America!

This IS America!           This IS America!      This IS America!

This IS America!           This IS America!      This IS America!

This IS America!           This IS America!      This IS America!

The people were never healed as a collective.

The collective trauma was never addressed.

The people were not repaired.

It's in the fabric. 

Yes, some progress has been made.

Yet, a simultaneous approach to healing the trauma has not been a part of the progress.

People are ill.  Mentally ill. In a deep and complex way that's steeped in vile hatred. 

These people are free to roam with no national intervention. 

Yes, America can be many other things while concurrently being THIS.

Still, this IS America, Y'all!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Do You Remember Me?

March 2017, Two months old

For as much as I'm able to see aspects of myself in my children, one thing I recognize is that my second oldest daughter is me when I was a child.  I'm not referring to looks or physical qualities, although we reflect similar features coming from both sides of my family more so than my other two.  What I'm talking about here, though, is that her intangible, cognitive/emotional/social qualities are not very different from mine when I was very young and in some ways even still today.    She embodies so much of what I remember about myself--those things that made me somewhat of a funny, awkward child.  

For one, the girl can talk.  She makes my head spin at times with the volume of conversations that she's ready to have all day long into the night.  This was me. I recall my mama saying on numerous occasions that I was a talker and, quite frankly, that I talked too much! I still catch myself doing it at times (even in my writing) and also having conversations within conversations when I'm talking to a person, usually my mom or husband.  My little one does the same.  I also think, like her mama, she will be the one who enjoys writing.  She's definitely got a way with words and grammar.  

I can also be pretty goofy and have been so as far back as I can recall.   My girl has it honest.  She is ready to crack up laughing--and fall out with it, too--at whatever she finds to be the least bit humorous. And I'm talking about crying laughing.  I often get a good laugh just seeing her laugh.   

She can also be sort of clumsy, yet clumsy may not even be the right descriptor.  It's something like going at things in a roundabout, disorganized, almost nonsensical fashion that can lead to whatever it is she was attempting to do being done ...clumsily.  Ha!  That was and still is me at times!  All I can do is shake me head.

I can think of a few other ways in which this child is me, but the one characteristic, that really stood out to me over the past year as she's grown more into her personality is how literal-minded she is.  She listens intently, and there are times when what she hears isn't meant to be a literal representation of what is being said, yet she takes it that way.  This cognitive trait translates in many ways for her and sometimes causes her worry or sincere concern.  Then, when she brings up what she might have heard me or her dad say, we'll have to explain that whatever it is we were saying isn't literally gonna happen.  This was me as a child, to a T.  

My baby recently turned four-years-old, and every day it's like--through her very existence and in those moments when I'm on her case about being too silly or talking more than I feel is necessary--she's asking me, "Don't you remember me?"  And I do.  I really do.  

Oh! Although I stated earlier that physical attributes aren't the subject of the post, she's the only one of my three who's got the inward-pointing "pigeon toes" that I had for a long time as a child.

I'm hoping that 4 means fewer instances of putting shoes on the wrong feet and being adamant about keeping them that way!

Monday, December 28, 2020

That Old Thang Back

"I'm just gon' ignore you, cause you ignant." --My favorite line from Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, spoken by Glynn Turman's character Toledo  


At one point in life I was an English major in college.  During that time I took all of the available African American  literature classes, all of which were taught by Dr. Reginald Young.  I still  solute Dr. Young for has passion for black literature in particular, and how he engaged his students in dialogue regarding various texts. I always thoroughly enjoyed and really miss those moments.

Now, a few years before I was an English major, I was an apparel design major at the same university, and one of my minors during that time was art.  As an art major,  I chose to take a few music classes.  One was a piano class and the other was a jazz class.  During that jazz class, my professor (whose name I don't recall, yet I can picture him clear as day sitting at the front of the auditorium-style class holding an instrument) taught us about Ma Rainey.  He played her music in class and ensured that we'd take away from the class the great contributions that she's made to music.   He did the same for every other musical talent taught in that course, as we was passionate about music in the same way Dr. Young had been about the subject matter he taught.   Because he taught us Ma Rainey in the manner that he did and highlighted her work as "mother or the blues" in relation to some of the jazz greats, she's etched in my mind.  

Recently my husband and I watched the film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.  The word of Chadwick Boseman's passing really caught us off guard, as it did a lot of people who knew and appreciated his work.  We were looking forward to getting to witness him in his final role as Levee in this film.

In all honestly, we threatened to turn it off at least two times in the first fifteen minutes.   We both went into it forgetting that this film was adapted from an August Wilson play.  I appreciate August Wilson's work and enjoy plays. But considering that we didn't start watching the movie until after 10:30 pm and were both pretty tired, something about Black Bottom wasn't working for us. My husband was somewhere between asleep and awake, and I think I was expecting more music/performance than what was being presented.  We both were.    In a word, it was us and not Chadwick 'nem.   However, as the film progressed, we started to perk up. The dynamic between the band members--though loquacious in nature--started to grow on me.   I'm also certainly not mad at Viola Davis as Ma Rainey.  I see Viola as a very powerful actress.  Just a few weeks ago I was recalling her performance in Fences and saying how I need to see that (also an August Wilson play adapted into) film again.  I was really moved by her portrayal as Rose.  I know Denzel was shook standing opposite of her.  

With all the different story lines intertwining, this film turned out to be one that's definitely worth watching.  When it was done, I literally found myself wanting to teleport back to the early 2000s to a classroom in Griffin Hall in Lafayette, LA with Dr. Young  leading us in a discussion about Levee's historical trauma caused by a racist, degenerate mentality which ruled in that day and how, despite what he had told himself about said trauma, the white men who literally acted it out, and "the white man" in general (which the audience learns of via his captivating dialogue), his frustration with that system lead him--in the end--to commit a heinous act against someone who was not his enemy.  His elder. A brother.  Someone who looked like him and who had likely been subjected to the same racist, degenerate system.  

It would be interesting to be in a setting  discussing these plays/films and literature in general, however my life isn't making space for that these days. That's ok.  I've been fortunate to do plenty of that in the past, and I'm happy for others in various community and academic settings who are having these moments at present.  

Here's a 60 Minutes interview with Viola Davis.  I really like her as an actress, and when I see her in film I find myself wanting to know more about her as a person.  She's quite admirable from when I've gathered. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Proceed With Haste

I see that this video premiered on my birthday.  I'm three weeks late coming across it but grateful for the gift nonetheless. 

Music is always playing in our household.  I have a deep, deep appreciation for it and connection to it, and the girls are coming to appreciate that, especially since we're all home all the time these days. A big part of our homeschool/unschool is music. I've talked to them about tempo with Tina Turner and Proud Mary and have had philosophical discussions about TLC's song No Scrubs with my 6-year-old (she insisted and came to a pretty mature analytical conclusion of the lyrics).  Comprehension of music is common with us.  She wants to know why so many songs are about love.  I've attempted to give her some sort of explanation, as I know it to be true that some of the greatest music/poetry/art grows out of love--people in love and out of love, the good/great and heartbreak.  

This song by Jazmine Sullivan has been on repeat in my ear and in my head.  I'on know who broke her heart, but I'm here for this musical blessing that grew out of that situation.  She's so amazingly gifted.  Her singing (technique, transitions, etc.), that of the background singers, the work of the guitarist, the aesthetic of it all--this really is giving me everything I needed in a song but didn't know it.  Powerful. 


"Boy, please, 
Boy, please
I don't need it
Memories, all that sh*t
You can keep it.

and puh-LEASE, hurry up and come pick up your damn feelings.

*raises hand*  

Been there.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

On Time

It has absolutely been my experience in life that the energy I'm seeking is seeking me as well.  I've got numerous magical stories that I could share of how things that were initially just a thought in my mind manifested physically right before my very eyes.  Whether present in my thoughts regularly or fleetingly, things, people, scenarios have come to me in just the way I had envisioned--I'm speaking of the positive here.  This is not to be boastful, as I am in a constant state of wonderment about it all is though I were hearing someone else recount her/his own mystical stories of manifestation. It is a humbling experience.  

Regarding things, they have been big and small.

One thing that has been a challenge to keep up with in our home is dry erase markers.  The girls have a dry erase board in the form of an easel on which they do lots of writing, drawing, and brainstorming.  Despite the importance of suitable markers for the board, keeping the writing instruments functional and in an accessible place really just seems to be beyond us.  As such, we were in a store recently--a local Japanese dollar store to be exact--with the goal of getting new markers.  Now, the type of store that it was that we visited is relevant, because in reading this you should know that the Japanese dollar store has e.ver.y.thing.  I come from a place where Dollar Tree is THE dollar store that has everything, but trust me when I say it has nothing on Daiso, this Japanese store.

One of the fun things about the store is that there are all sorts of things that are so mystical to me.  A lot of the packages have writing only in Japanese; others have mostly Japanese with some English, cluing the non-Japanese speaker in on just what's in the wrapper being analyzed.  It's a fun experience for me and the girls each time we go, despite the fact that I'm a minimalist who is usually going there for the one or two things I'm searching for, and that's IT--not to mention that I'm trying to be in and out given all that's going on these days. 

In Daiso in early 2019, when baby was still in my belly, and face coverings were not required.  Notice that everything is not a dollar, or even a dollar fifty for that matter. Ha!

A month or so ago I got the idea that I wanted one of those hour glass sand timers just to let the girls have that experience.  I've always found them to be pretty neat, and while we use electronic devices as a means of setting timers for us on a regular basis, a sand timer, I knew, would be a fun experience for them.  It crossed my mind, but it wasn't such a pressing desire that caused me to look into where I could get one.  I wondered about it and thought about it maybe one or two more times before forgetting about it altogether.  The busy nature of life sometimes, you know.  

So, we were in the Japanese dollar store getting markers. me and my three girls.  Naturally, they're wide- eyed, looking at all the things available to shoppers but knowing Mama was really clear on what she was there for and that was IT.  There we were, standing in front of three or four different types of dry erase markers, determining which ones we should get this go round.  Which could we get the most use out of before they, too, become useless and dried out under the couch somewhere?  Of course, we try to do better each time.  

"What's this?"  my three-year-old-reached down and picked something up, showing me with a look of curiosity on her face.  It was an hour glass sand timer, misplaced by someone, right on the shelf below the dry erase markers.  It had never crossed my mind to look for one in that store (in fact, I'm certain that it was a new item), yet there it was being shown to me, resting out of place near the one thing I went in to get that day.   This seemed so random, yet, in my experience, I've learned that these things are not random at all.  They're the direct,  intentional response by a force seeking to connect me with those things that have taken shape in my mind.  My desires.  

It was in a state of amazement that I walked with my girls to the checkout counter, holding the sand timer in my hand.  It wasn't clear to me where the others were located  in the store, but I held firmly the one that had been misplaced just for us.  They're already getting a kick out of it! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Ready or Not

The girls wanted shrimp dumplings.  It was a Saturday--the last day of November--and the day had started out on a pretty mellow note.   The regular weekend routines had commenced, so we were all moving about doing regular things like cooking, cleaning, playing, gardening, discussing, and generally just being.  The day before is a blur at this point, but I do recall my husband and I giving in to the girls' request that day, telling them we'd be sure to take them to a particular nice Chinese restaurant to indulge themselves the following day.

At a Chinese restaurant for dim sum January 2, 2019.  It was the littlest ones birthday. Read to the end of this blog post to see what had just occurred on December 31/January 1.  Very similar circumstances to the birth story!

I was feeling fine, but when I woke up that Saturday morning, November 30,  it was clear to me that by December 1,  we would be a family of five rather than four. Late that afternoon light contractions started. They weren't too serious--just consistent enough to confirm that the due date of December 5, which was five days away, was truly just a projection.  The baby was ready.

Around 4 p. m. a friend stopped by to visit with my husband.  On his way out not too long afterwards, he passed me up in the kitchen as I stood at the stove cooking a random pot of black beans.  It was my determination that day--no different than it had been every other day that I had cooked black beans--to get them to the texture and consistency of the ones that had been served at my favorite Cuban restaurant back in the day--a feat I'd been aiming for in all my years of soaking and cooking black beans.  On this day I really got it! And how I just figured out that a simple bay leaf would take a pot of black beans to the next level is beyond me. 

At about 4:30, when my husband's guest passed me up in the kitchen on his way out the back door, I was stirring the beans for the last few times as my protruding belly made distance between the rest of my body and the pot. He asked, "Any day now?" I replied casually without taking my eyes off the pot, "Probably tonight," with a smile.

The contractions, though not overly painful, were consistent.  I casually went and started putting clothes and things in a bag.  An overnight stay at the hospital was imminent.

Around 6:30 pm, we were all dressed and heading out the door.  We stopped by the drugstore.  I went in and came out in the midst of contractions that were still occurring at irregular intervals but were happening no less.

At the restaurant, things were intensifying.  The intervals were becoming more regular, and I was also having to regularly stop and breathe deeply until each contraction passed.  Still, the pain wasn't terrible. I was able to eat and have a good time with family despite being in active labor.  Then, a trip to the restroom confirmed what would inevitably happen that night. 

Not sure at what point this picture was taken. I really don't even remember this moment at the restaurant, but I was in labor. 

On the way to the car, my then 2-year-old decided at some point that she needed me to carry her.  As if walking myself to the car while having contractions were not enough, I hoisted her up on my right hip and we all made our way.  Every so often, I had to stop and breathe through it.

Thinking back on it, I recall carrying her--sleeping--all the way from the car into the restaurant as well. where she slept spread out on two chairs for the first 15 minutes that we were there.

The baby was surely coming.  As such, one would assume that we'd be making our way to the intended place for the birth (a hospital in our case).  But guess what?   The restaurant that we'd just left did not serve dim sum at night, and...the girls wanted shrimp dumplings! I mean, that had been our primary motivation for going out to eat in the first place.  So, our next stop was not the hospital. It was another restaurant.  We called on the way to place the order, and once we arrived my husband and girls went in to get the food while I stayed in the van holding it together. I don't like doing too much laboring in the hospital anyway, so the delay was cool with me.

We've got several pictures of her at different ages outside of the restaurant in front of this horse.  And yeah. we even stopped to take pictures as we left the restaurant.  I would have posted the one of me and the girls standing there with me smiling and looking casual like it was any other day, but I don't like how my feet look in the picture, ha!

Now, my tolerance for pain has always been pretty high, and I'm relatively calm in general.  As such, my experience with this--being a woman in labor in a vehicle--was nothing like it is often portrayed on TV, with the laboring individual screaming in the back seat while cursing out the driver and threatening to deliver a baby right there in the middle of traffic.  In fact, my second child could have surely come in the car during the 50 minutes or so it took us to get from the house to the hospital when I was pregnant with her, and that was a pretty mellow car ride. Despite the strong urge to push her out on O'ahu's H-1, I managed to keep her in until about 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital.

They came out with the food, and we drove not far down the road to the hospital.

Things were pretty laid back in the delivery room. As was the case with my second pregnancy and perhaps the first as well, a point came when a few people were standing around in scrubs telling me they were waiting for the doctor.  Meanwhile, I was beyond ready to push and felt as though I might transform into something other than human while they're telling me, "You're doing so good. Don't push yet. Doctor is almost here. Just breathe." My thought hearing all this in the moment: "Y'all crazy."  Yet, with each contraction I held on to the bed railing super tight nearly breaking it I'm sure, breathed, moaned/yelled loudly when the breathing wasn't sufficient, and waited. 

Fast forward some amount of time, Baby was here, and I was being praised for handling it all so well without medication.  All I know is during the most intense moments, despite how I appeared to be handling it externally, internally I was telling myself--despite a high pain tolerance--I won't be doing it again! But, one thing about it is when it's over, it's over.  One minute the pain can be so intense it feels like your body will not withstand the delivery. Two minutes later, the birth is complete, all of that pain has subsided, and you've got this precious little being.  It's really special, yet I think that with three of these special moments, I'm good.  :) People ask if we were trying for a boy with the third one or will we try for a boy. To both of those inquiries I say nope and nope.  A third little being was determined to come through to us, and succeeded about one month shy of a year since I miscarried on January 1, 2019.  I was unaware that I was pregnant then.  We're just feeling blessed to have gotten through that and to now have another healthy baby!

Baby Makara on January 1, 2020

About the name...
Makara: derived from Maatkare,  title given to female pharoah Hatshepsut. Pronounced Makare/ra. Then we realized this name is relevant in Hawaiian as well, but with an 'l', as there is no 'r' in the Hawaiian language. 



Maatkare/Makare would have been roughly translated to mean Maat (the goddess of truth) is the life force (ka) of the sun (ra). We've translated into our own meaning, very similar to the original, though.



Also, Makala = to set at liberty

All of the research we did around the name Maatkare/a, learning that Maat was or maybe was pronounced Ma, and eventually settling on the name Makara left me wondering if the name of Egyptian goddess Ma'at--whose name I and everyone else I know who says it have been pronouncing just how it's written--was actually pronounced as Ma by the Egyptians.  Hmmmm...we may never know! But this is something I'm interested in researching further.  Either way, Makara fits Babygirl perfectly!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

It's All Cute Baby Stuff Till They Start Actin' A Fool!

So, I'm having another baby.  Due December 5, 2019.

Recently I've gone on two hospital tours to determine where I will give birth, because, despite still wanting to have a home birth or something similar, I recognize that it won't be feasible. Plus, at this point, I'm so exhausted and can definitely use the couple of days that the hospital offers after delivery just so I can really chill out.  My five and two-yearold wear me out, y'all. I'll let their daddy and granny (who will hopefully be here) tend to them while I kick it, recover, and order room service with new baby. 

In short:  I'm tired.  

Well, anyway.  I've toured two hospitals: Kapiolani Medical Center (THE Women and Children's hospital for the state of Hawai'i, and where former president Barack Obama was born) and Queens Medical Center, the Hawaiian hospital founded by Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV in 1859 to address some of the medical issues being faced by Hawaiians during that time.  

The latter is where my first two children were born, and it was a great experience.  I just went on the tour to refresh myself from the first one I attended in 2014 and to essentially talk myself out of giving birth at the other hospital.  The primary reason that I'm even considering Kapiolani is because technically it's closer to my home, so logistically it makes more sense now that we live in Honolulu and not way out on the west side. The vibes (mellow, down to earth, straightforward) at Queens are more my style, though, so chances are that's where I'll go. They put up with all my skeptical, I-don't-really-go-along-with-the-program mom stuff and don't give me a hard time about my birth plan.  I feel comfortable there, and comfort in any way you can get it is what you want during the birthing process. 

Just as an aside, Kapiolani-being the nature of hospital that it is--delivers 500 and something babies a year, whereas Queens delivers 100 and something.  

Well, these hospital tours are always so cute in terms of the other soon to be mothers and fathers who are in attendance.  Other than myself, the expectant parents are looking forward to greeting their first child.  During both recent tours I was the only one present who already has children.  So, it's typically the case that the others there are a bit nervously excited, as they're not sure what is to come or what to expect in terms of their impending future as parents.  They're ready to meet their little bundles of joy and do all the lovey-dovey baby things that ensue after birth. 

Kapiolani doesn't allow children to attend hospital tours with parents, so when I went to tour the facilities, the girls stayed home with their did.  Queens, though, welcomes all family members on their tours, including siblings.  (This is another reason I like the vibes of Queens. They're definitely ohana--family--oriented from the jump.) I took my girls with me, and all of the soon-to-be parents there had a chance to see how real it can get with these little ones just a few short years down the road.  I mean, I'm not saying that my girls showed their natural behinds (as my folk would say) but they definitely gave a taste of what could be the case when wiggly little restless bodies are expected to be in certain settings for an extended period of time.  

Life's a party with my girls, usually no matter what and no matter where.

Although they smiled at and made cutesy small talk with the girls, I know in the back of their minds they were wondering, "Is this what I'm getting myself into??"  Ha!  I'd also like to tell them that it won't necessarily be so.   My babies, with their wild and free spirits and boundless energy, can often be the exception among other more calm children/people in a given environment.  BUT, I would also tell them that, despite their best efforts at Home Training , they just might someday find themselves in a position where they're 38 weeks pregnant with their second or third child, are somewhere among other adults trying to accomplish something and get information, and are having to simultaneously wrangle in (i.e. hold/corral sideways, upside down, whichever way!)  their 2-almost-three-year-old who absolutely refuses to stop running around screaming in glee for no other reason than she's alive, happy, and feeling fantastic.  This or similar could just be a reality somewhere down the road.  And if it is, you probably will have also learned by then to not sweat it too hard.  Some days will be better than others, and despite what society might want you to believe about your parenting abilities, sometimes these kids are just nuts! 
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