Category Archives: Quotes

It’s Getting Hot in Here…NYC edition

I’m just back from New York. The plan was to go see the Kara Walker exhibit at the Whitney, catch up with a friend or two and enjoy restaurant week, maybe watch a little hotel t.v. and get some work done.

Who was I kidding?

Friday started off great with a special delivery (yes, that’s cryptic, I know. lol). Unfortunately, the weather turned all The Day After Tomorrow on us. Snowflakes as big as tissues on an already snowpacked tundra-looking land was just one more reason KJ and I were ready to get outta dodge. Through snow, sleet and rain (really) we made it into Brooklyn by 8:30pm and into Manhattan by 9:30, just enough time to check-in, stash the car and hit Caroline’s Comedy Club to see Sheryl Underwood’s late set. There was no question that it was going to be hella-funny, and she didn’t disappoint, we laughed our way through 3 martinis each and had to explain some of the more “urban” jokes to the unsuspecting folks of the non-brown variety. After the set, at the bar (waiting for KJ) Sheryl walked up with several people in tow and uttered the most beautiful phrase in the human language: “Hey cutie, come hang out and let me buy you a drink.”

How could I say “No” to that? Yeah, of course I didn’t. Thus began a night that I can barely put into words here (to protect the innocent AND the guilty). KJ and I hung out with Sheryl and her friends, at the bar and acted up until the wee hours of the morning. Sheryl is razor sharp smart, kind and talented.  It was one of those nights, that was magic, where you don’t want to be anywhere other than where you are in that moment in time. It was not the last we’d see of the crew though.

Saturday, we hit the Whitney where KJ hustled a student discount and the exhibit was worth the journey. It wasn’t easy to get through either physically (so many people) and emotionally (antebellum south images of race/sex/brutality, etc.) kind of like my reactions to Frida Khalo’s work…Good art makes you feel, and not always good. My favorites where “Creme in your Coffee and Chocolate in your Milk” sketches from the 90’s and one of the video pieces from 2004. The exhibit moves out to UCLA’s Hammer Museum for the rest of the spring, so catch it if you can. Amazing. Here’s a brief, but good, everyman’s synopsis of the exhibit “My Enemy, My Complement, My Oppressor, My Love.”

We scooped up a couple bottles of wine to meet KC and the crew at his pad in Chelsea to whoop it up before heading back uptown to see The Color Purple on Broadway. Thanks to S for the hookup on a 1/2 price tickets link! The show was phenomenal. Chaka Khan was funny and fierce. I’ve seen her live before and she didn’t disappoint, she was so obviously born for the stage.

After the show we met up with Sheryl and the crew. again. until the wee hours. again. And she wouldn’t let us pick up the tab. again. KC and his crew met back up with us, toasts were made, friends were hugged and my favorite quote of the night was: “That’s why they put me in jail last Thursday!” As uttered by an arrogant “D” list rap personality who shall remain unnamed (hey, I ain’t crazy!).

We metro’d downtown for more club hopping KC and Kirk, but not before I got into a rather delightful conversation with a housing-challenged gentleman who regaled me with tales of his walk from Richmond (Virginia) to Atlanta (Georgia). Before we hopped off the train, we promised each other we’d meet up in Palermo, Italy one day.

The rest of the night gets sketch, Rated R/x, NSFW, TMI, WTF? and OMG! So, I’ll just let you fill in whatever story you’d like, I am generous enough to fill in the details like: Pork fried rice at 5am?

Sunday, we sent Sheryl a gift bag over to her hotel before heading to brunch at Junior’s over in Brooklyn off Flatbush. We decided to stay in Brooklyn and watched the game. I was down for the Pats the whole way, and I couldn’t be mad that they lost because the Giant’s defense really won that game. I lost a dollar to Charles who flip-flopped at half-time. Argghh! It was in the 40’s in NY and I guess that is like The Day After Tomorrow to them, Ella had the heat on in her apartment and when I woke up from my nap, I was convinced that I was in hell (and after the weekend, who could be surprised?). But then I realized I had on my hoodie and was too close to the radiator.

Whew. That was close.

I have to be back in NY on Wednesday. Who else is scared?

 

A Heart for Service

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marian Wright Edelman

One of the many benefits of working in and around institutions of higher education, is the general plethora of socio-cultural programming available at most schools. Couple that with an Ivy-League nametag and you’ve got out of this world speakers, performers, artists and events. Everything from seeing Barrack Obama on the treadmill at the gym, to hearing Marian Wright Edelman’s MLK day keynote address.

As a contemporary/mentee of Dr. King’s, she pushed for the Poor People’s Movement, though Dr. King (and Bobby Kennedy) were both assasinated before the event (a march and “tent-in” on Washington, DC), Mrs. Edelman still saw fit to gather the troops, personal safety-be-damned, and mounted the attack on poverty which, of course, still continues today.

She spoke for an hour and a half, and if she’d kept on for another hour and a half, we would have all remained, rapt, inspired and called to duty.  She pointed out that King’s words still ring true. That injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice/freedom everywhere.” I loved her point that the gauge of a society’s morals is how it treats it’s children.

I forget sometimes what an honor it is to be an educator, maybe not in the traditional sense, but as someone who fights for higher education for populations who have not long had access and still face barriers, as a mentor, program director and coach. My heart beat warm in my chest, because I’m not alot of things, but I care, and I have a heart for service.

Check out the work Mrs. Edelman and her crew are doing over at the Children’s Defense Fund (which she founded and where she coined the phrase “No child left behind”). Whatever you stand for, whatever you fight for, whatever you’re passionate about. You count. Everyday there are people who can’t do, counting on those of us who can.

Evidence of a Life Well Lived, or Debauchery..

Things that Actually Came Out of People’s Mouths:

  1. The first time I went to jail…
  2. Did anyone’s underwear come off?
  3. Work is like school without the chocolate milk, the playground and the nap. School pretty much rocked.
  4. New love is like a Slimfast shake, it’s probably healthier than what you had before, but you’ll probably be looking around for something that’s no good for you in a couple of hours.
  5. I love you, and I would bail you out of jail, but we can’t be discussing why we have to throw away your bloodstained shirt.
  6. All Black people receive Mary J. Blige’s cd’s as soon as a new one comes out…it’s one of the perks.
  7. I don’t want to marry her, but she doesn’t need to know that!
  8. Yeah, if you ever want to get lucky, don’t say that. In fact, silence is sexy.
  9. My idea of a perfect relationship is from 6-10. No, not people, 6-10pm. Dinner, wine, listen to a little NPR, then s/he has to go home. No rolling around in my 400 threadcount sheets.
  10. She’s crazy, and I mean crazy crazy, not the good kind of crazy!

Things that Actually Came Out of My Mouth:

What I said: It’s good to hear your voice

What I meant: I miss you

What I said: I miss you

What I meant: I wish you were here

What I said: I wish you were here

What I meant: I wish you were here right now

What I said: That sounds interesting

What I meant: That sounds terrible

What I said: I think we can make that happen

What I meant: Call me when you figure that out

What I said: You owe me $79.00

What I meant: Where’s my moolah punk?

 

Cochin, Kerala (India): Pulling it Together

Yes, Indian Boys ARE Cute!, originally uploaded by funchilde.

“..it is about family. humanity. community” -archbishop desmond tutu

No doubt some of you think I’ve suffered a nervous breakdown after my last two posts. I’m actually doing great, the last two posts were the accumulation and result of more than two months of travel and study of some pretty impoverished places, the sum of the knowledge gained in our Global Studies course on human rights indexes, women’s right’s indexes, health and family indexes, education and literacy indexes, environmental reports and of course, our day to day interaction with each other and the locals that we are blessed to meet.

As one commenter points out, of all of the people I’ve met and observed as we are traveling around the world, all of them have a base “joy” that owes nothing to materialism. Almost without fail, everyone I’ve met wants to talk about themselves, their family, their community and life. And there really isn’t much that separates us in the general sense. I’ve just come to a place personally where I’m “fully” (I think) aware of my privildge and acknowledging that I no longer want to keep my head up my @#$ about the world and my place in it.

What that means I don’t exactly know yet (maybe nothing beyond that?). Nor do I harbor condescending thoughts of “saving” anyone, colonialism already took care of screwing many people out of their land, culture, family and in most cases their freedom (think slavery in America and Brazil, Apartheid in South Africa, the plight of Native Americans and the indigenous ethnic groups of Mexico. And I’m not sure about missionary work which looks to me like it trades bibles for food, money and education-things I think should be free regardless of your religious affiliation. This is just my opinion.

That being said, despite my heart’s pain at the poverty I encountered in Brazil, Africa, Mauritius and India…I wouldn’t trade a minute of this trip for anything. I also hope that my descriptions of India in particular, do not dampen anyone’s desire to visit this amazing land. India and South Africa are tied for my favorite places that I want to return to. For very different reasons. In India I felt like a real traveler. The culture shock was larger than any I’ve experienced so far on this trip. The smells, the pollution, the bargaining, the traffic, the heat. The diversity of the Indian people, the beauty of the land, their unabashed love of all things Bollywood and sing along dance numbers. Their devotion to their families and communities.

I loved packing my backpack to head down to Kerala. The Pepto, hand sanitizer, headlamp and book. Check. Underwear, spare roll of toilet paper, bag locks, picture of my parents. Check. T-shirts, sarong, sunscreen and deet. Check.

I also enjoyed using the eastern style “squat” toilets which take a little getting used to. Fortunately, I quickly recalled my technique from using the “squatters” in Kenya. What else? I enjoyed the Welcome Committee, and the daily game of guessing how many people I would see on one moped/scooter (the most I saw was 5!). I couldn’t get enough of the Masala Dosa (potatoes, etc in a thin dough wrap spiced to perfection). Sweet, hot, coffee is a must on those early mornings when we had to get up before dawn to see/do more things in 24 hours than I ever thought possible.

My first overnight ride on the infamous blue trains of India. Even the rat that ran towards my feet made the adventure that much sweeter (and made me jump onto two bunks faster than I’ve moved since middle school!). We dubbed the Kerala trip “Rats on a Train” from there on out, but the cars were clean, the people were friendly and Man We are in INDIA! The daily surrendering of your life to auto traffic and rickshaw drivers really makes you face your mortality and move on. The markets for EVERYTHING from onions to fish. The Temples, Churches and Synagogues. Divine. Cooking Pepper Chicken Masal-I hope its not the last time.

You also have to love Squat Toilets! Even when we had the choice, I chose “squat” over “western”. For example in the trains there is a squat and a western at the end of each car. Sandpiper beer (and others) made the heat and dust almost worth it. Every night we’d drag ourselves to some restaurant or watering hole looking like all shades and sizes of Indiana Jones crossed with Laura Croft (Tomb Raider) with a little bit of Pigpen (from Charlie Brown) thrown in.

More than anything I enjoyed the people. The scenes of daily routine in a foreign land make me think about my own routines when I’m at “home” whatever that is anymore. I really enjoyed watching people go about their day in India in a way that made me feel like a cheerful voyeur. But it is their languid pace, the fact that everything has to be done from beginning to end, and there are few short-cuts. There are no Wal-Marts or Targets, no Ikeas or laundromats (outside of major metro areas). These scenes make us all reflect on how we spend our time, what “convenience” versus necessity really means, and how appreciative we are (or how appreciative we ought to be) for the many ways our lives are made easier.

I loved floating through the Periyar game reserve. The Monkeys! The trip down Kerala’s backwaters was something I’ll never forget. These are things that are indescribable and even photos do them little justice. I can’t tell you what it feels like to stand in a temple, church or synagogue that was built in the 1500’s. The craftsmanship, the caretaking and maintenance, the joys, secrets and pains those walls must know. I laughed my head off talking with the fisherman and hauling in a net of “catch” and strolling through the markets and seeing the wide variety of fresh fish and seafood. I enjoyed seeing the sights from the back of Adil’s (pictured) motorbike, zipping from church to church to snake charmer, holding tight to his beltloops and and even more tightly to the moment.

Snake charmers. Fishermen. Mothers. Daughters. Fathers. Sons.

Finally, here’s an example of the type of traveler that I am. We returned from Kerala via overnight train at 0600 (early morning) on our last day in India. I hadn’t slept much on the train but was in good spirits, if a little grubby and greasy around the edges. One of my colleagues (Erika) who was on the Kerala trip was also on another trip due to leave the ship at 8am and she feared that she would miss the trip because we were getting in so close to departure and she wouldn’t have time to shower, etc. I was like “eh, just dump your gear, and go”.

By the time we got on the ship it was 7:30am and after a long, pretty involved but very cool story…I ended up with a ticket leaving at 8:00am for that very same trip (a long day trip out to some amazing temples). I literally didn’t even have time to go to my cabin and change my t-shirt, shower, or even store my pack/gear. I just dumped it in the admin office, prayed it would be safe (aforementioned belongings including iPod etc) and grabbed my Nikon D50, a bandana and a bottle of water and ran for the bus. Erika laughed and said we should be seatmates since neither of us had showered, washed our faces or anything.

But the sunlight streaming into the bus windows on a beautiful morning as a foreign city wakes up and doesn’t feel quite so foreign anymore, is worth a missed shower any day. I pray that you all have a chance to visit !ncredibe !ndia one day, she’ll take your breath away and you’ll love her for it.

**Turns out from a spiritual perspective that I was “supposed” to be on this last minute trip. about 2.5 hours away at the first temple we visited, one of the students got really sick with diahreah (sp?) and vomiting, etc. Everyone on the trip was really into it (about 40 people and three other staff), and the student didn’t want to leave the trip and tried to make it through. I made the call and told her I was hiring a car and we were going back. It was only going to get hotter, dustier and more uncomfortable for her. Her face showed her relief that someone was making definitive decisions. We hired a car for $30 (for a 5 hour round trip for the driver-crazy) and got her back to the ship. The driver stopped along the way as needed so that she could be sick in decent facilities. She recovered nicely by the next day and I was only too happy to be in a situation where I could actually DO something. The upside is that I was also showered and in my pajamas by sundown.

Ile De Deux Cocos: Sublime, With Lime, Island Time

  

I am loyal and consant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby-I just don’t care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it’s mine.
–Elizabeth Gilbert author

My second day on Mauritius we hit the beach at Ile de Deux Cocos (Two Coconut Island) via glass bottom boats. My life will never be the same. I think the students liked it too! There were probably 9 faculty and staff and 60 students on the island which sounds terrible but was really quite perfect.

We were greeted in true fantasy island style with cold face towels, mimosas, an open bar, free snorkel equipment and lounge chairs (pictured above) hammocks, cabanas, and a BBQ lunch of chicken, shrimp, fish, lamb, salads, breads, and on and on.

They had to pry our toasted, sand-crusted, worn-out bodies off the island. One of the owners (it is owned by a conglomerate) was on hand to wish us safe travels and make sure we didn’t make off with any of his crystalware, silverware, beach gear or the like.

In a journey of almost 6 weeks with a pace that makes my head spin daily, it was nice to chase sand crabs, ooh and ahh over fish, decide wether to snorkel or nap first (snorkel!), chicken or shrimp (both), hammock or lounge (neither!).

There were strolling guitar players who serenaded us as we napped and played in the sun and shade. Paradise, really. Because everyone was happy, content, relaxed. That night the “crew” that I hung out with in Cape Town insisted that I go out with them, but when I heard that the ride they arranged wasn’t due to come back to this side of the island until 4am….I laughed and laughed and told them “you couldn’t PAY me to hang out with yall like that again.” Plus, the next day I headed out for some deep sea fishing fun and had to be up at 5:15am. So I caught up with some students that I didn’t know well and had yummy chinese food until we couldn’t keep our eyes open or our heads out of our plates.

I thought it was hilarious that our boat was named Zazou 3 (Wasn’t that the dude in “The Life Aquatic?”). This was another one of my goals…to go deep sea fishing, something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now but had neither the time or the money in ample supply at the same time. And after this trip out to catch some beast of the deep, I can honestly say I’d rather stand on the docks and just throw my money into the ocean, because deep sea fishing is a gamble. And despite our gear, guides, and good attitudes, all we caught was sight of a Chinese navy ship, and 3 birds. I guess after Fantasy Island, I was due to draw a short straw.

I spent my last day on Mauritius at a Botanical Garden (yall know how I love a botanical garden) this was the best worst Bo-Garden ever. Turtles, ???? (I have no idea what these are because NOTHING was labeled!), oh wait here are some FLOWERS! Imagine that-and lots and lots of trees. I shouldn’t complain since it was free. Of course I was out and about with Shayla and so the day had to decend into foolishness. We got mistaken for South African tourists, she was assumed to be a cook on the ship, our cab driver tried to shake us down for an extra $5US after taking us on a skeevy city tour, we ate some sketchy ice cream, shot amazing views of the city and she got groped on the water taxi. So we’ve dubbed Mauritius “The Island We Hate to Love.”

CHENNAI, INDIA: Here we come!

Cape Town, So Africa: Bye Bye Love

“Live every week…like it’s Shark Week.”
– Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan on Tina Fey’s 30 Rock.

[1] My first post from Cape Town was a view of Table Mountain from the waterfront. I thought it would be fitting that my last post from Cape Town would be of the waterfront (and specifically you can see our ship the MV Explorer there with the blue hull), from Table Mt. My 55-300 lens is sweeet!

[2] My last day in Cape Town was filled with a lot of joy, no sorrow and a little magic. I think I’ll keep that to myself, to savor and revisit, to touch with the edges of my mind when I want a smile.

[3] Thanks for all your votes on my inital post
Choose Your Own Adventure. I hope you all get the chance to do any and everything you’d like to do in So. Africa one day. In the end I couldn’t fit in everything-but here’s what I did get to do in the week:

Robben Island
Table Mountain
Ostrich Farm
Theater
Cooking Class
Church w/ Archbishop Tutu
Meerkat Manor
Visit A Township (x3)
See/Hear Good Jazz
Dance until 4am (x2)
Eat Authentic Braai
Pet Baby Cheetahs
Hold a Boa Constrictor
Drink/Buy Good Wine
Laugh until I Cried (x7)
Bought Good Music
See the Winelands
Drink Beer w/ the Locals (x3)
Dinner at Archbishop Tutu’s House
Catch Upper Respiratory Ebola Virus (UREV)
Wished My Mom Happy Birthday
Learned a new sexy trick for opening Beer bottles

and my favorite: Getting to know people (both locals and my students and colleagues) a little better. To sit next to, across from (and some times on laps)-with people of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds and dream our common dreams.

Check me out over at Gadling.
Next up on Funchilde: Mauritius, the Island you’ve never heard of!

To Hope (It’s all about perspective)

 

“I learned if you try you can fly, if you don’t then you won’t, so try ’til you die.” -Juelz Santana

I lurve this quote, I’ve been singing it for weeks. I can’t get it out of my head, its a daily mantra to keep pushing, to keep trying, to keep getting back up. Someone once told me: “No matter what happens, you’ll be alright, because you’ll either be dead, or you’ll be alright.”

-i lost my cell phone this weekend
-i found out that there’s a 95% chance that I won’t get into a top PhD program
-i’m working 90 hours/week

To everyone who is working on big dreams, waiting for answers, hoping that things come together, praying for relief or an end to hard times….don’t stop. Our success, failures, trials and triumphs are generally a matter of perspective. It’s cliche’ but I’m definitely a “glass half-full” type of gal. I’m so optimistic that if there’s ANY water in the glass I’ll try to find a way to make that worth celebrating. And I truly think that attitude is 85% of the secret to my success.

-a cabbie is overnighting my cell phone from NY
-i am focusing on the 5% chance that I DO have to get into a top program
-i lurve what i’m doing and it doesn’t feel like work (most days)

Plaza Belle del Artes, El D.F. : Blast from the Past

“Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.”
-Rilke

Butta.Fly

 

“‘How does one become a butterfly?’ she asked pensively. ‘You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.'”
– Trina Paulus

(via Monick)

Ride It Like You Stole It*

  

Take my advice, wait until spring or fall to take a motorcycle training class. Even with the adrenaline rush and velocity induced breeze, 102 degrees and a helmet, long-sleeved shirt and boots don’t mix. I took the Jump Start class in June, and got my license yesterday after the 3 day Basic Rider Course. You might wanna stay off the streets for a while.

*Instructor’s Advice during BRC