Apologizing Profusely and Checking In
Hello Dear Blog Family,
You have been on my mind at least once a day for the last month. I am sorry for not keeping you posted on what’s been happening. Quite a bit has happened and it’s all occurred so fast that I’ve had to do all I can to physically keep up. Blogging about it to share has been high on my priority list but I haven’t been able to make that happen until now. Thank you for checking in and reading and liking posts even as it’s been silent on here. I’ve missed hearing from people, perhaps you have as well?
Forgive me for the silence. You will find though that I have been writing. Working very tirelessly on the memoir, as well as a lot of other social commentary pieces that I will share with you soon. I also finally got off my behind and turned in close to 5000 words for two contests and a residency application. Keep all those appendages crossed for me!
So where to begin to catch you up…
With the now…
I am seated in my PJs perched a-top my free leather sofa writing to you. It’s 7:20 am on the West coast. I hope Mother Earth is planning to send some California sunshine my way today because right now, it is quite cloudy and chilly. The weather patterns in the U.S. have been quite unreal the last three weeks. I visited an 80-degree Maryland/DC for a few days in mid-March and returned here to find a foggy and rainy 50-Degree California. I keep saying we should be praying for forgiveness for all that we have done that’s messed with Mother Earth’s rhythms.
It has been a month of adventure beginning with AWP which was held in Chicago this year. I LOVE Chicago! I’ve never had the privilege of living there, but when I worked at Notre Dame, I visited quite often, taking the South Shore train up whenever I had a weekend off. In addition, some of my closest and life-long friends who have become family live in Chicago. So I planned to spend a week in Chicago even though AWP was only 4 days long. I had an amazing time. Despite the tight and insane AWP presentation schedules, I managed to see all seven of my friends and spend some individual time with each of them. What a blessing to be so rich in friends! It was great to see them all because generally we see each other at least twice a year but because of my time in Ghana, I hadn’t seen some of them in almost a year. I had so much to tell them about my time in Ghana, the students, my love-disgust relationship with the politics in Ghana especially when it comes to women & queer folks, my family pestering me about marriage, you know…everything about how I had grown in the last 9 months since I last spoke to or saw them. The biggest blessing of all was that everyone was so generous with their time and money and didn’t make me feel as though not having a job made me less of a human being. I crashed with my one friend and her boo in the West Loop and on the first night when I arrived, they had blown up my mattress and made my bed so cute and cozy, it brought tears in my eyes. So thoughtful. Ours was an unlikely friendship but we have nurtured it for twelve years and it has grown. A white girl from the UP and an African girl full of racial politics at every turn. I returned to Cali with an overflowing heart, quite grateful to have such wonderful friends in my life.
AWP itself was a blast as usual. This year, I challenged myself to attend more sessions and offsite programming because thanks to my one friend I was just within a 20-minute walking distance of the conference hotel, and I had purchased at CTA 7-day pass for the train. I went to sessions mainly on getting residencies and fellowships because I felt that’s where I was in my writing career. I’m ready for some of the free money out there to help me finish writing this first book. I learned quite a bit about the process and the many options out there. I sat in on a Fulbright discussion that was quite enlightening. I also challenged myself to be supportive of panels that were mainly led by either Black women or People of Color. When I looked in the AWP Bible, there weren’t but a handful, and they were occurring simultaneously almost as if to make sure attendance was low. This was also the case for Queer issues’ panels. It reeked of the Divide and Conquer mentality. It felt as if someone was afraid there would be a revolution if only one Queer Issues panel or POC-led panel was held per time slot. And maybe there might have been because folks would have shown up in their numbers. Who knows? We didn’t have the opportunity to find out. As it stood, everyone apologetically said: “well you know we are competing with this other POC panel or Queer panel so thank you for choosing to come here.” We shouldn’t have to compete against each other for participants. There aren’t enough panels as is, why should they all randomly happen to be scheduled simultaneously? My favorite off-site event was the Lamda sponsored Queer Writers of Color (yeah!) event held at the Center on Halsted. I ferried my little happy behind on over there as soon as the last panel was over, inviting all my friends in Chicago to come. It was surreal. We do exist! We sound amazing, like brilliant! And we are so beautiful. The room felt cozy and I felt I belonged. Finger snaps and ululations kept me grounded. Yes this was POC culture; we showed appreciation when something sounded good. At an not-on-purpose almost all white women writers’ offsite event, I got mistaken for the server three times even in my dress slacks, nice sweater, and name badge (saying the same thing as theirs)! After the third woman asked me to pour her some wine, I cracked. She stuttered in her blindness, turned red, composed herself and then decided to tell me that she too had been a server before and I was standing behind the table just as a server would. Let’s just say I had to leave the event soon after. Ugh! We do have such a long way to go sometimes.
Anyway, I wrote some pieces while I sat pondering the shortage of POC panels as well as the unfair arrangement of them. I will share it with you soon.
After 6 days in Chicago, I returned to Cali Tuesday morning at the crack-o-dawn to welcome a new friend into my life. We were soul sisters from ancient times. The Ancestors have been telling me, but I am often stubborn so I don’t listen well. She stayed for a week and we had a fun exploring the Bay and soaking in the warm sunshine. I had two cooking gigs that week she was visiting and I must say she passed the test of being able to handle me under stress. There will be more on her later.
Since I returned to the Bay, I’ve been contemplating starting a catering business. I have been cooking for a long time, and catering at random moments for different people. But this time when I returned, it felt like Ancestors were telling me that in addition to finishing the memoir, I should cook. It hasn’t been easy juggling the two loves. But I have decided to try my hands at it. I have catered four receptions for The Contemporary Writer’s Series at Mill’s College, and will be doing the last one for the semester tomorrow evening. I did the Generations Literary Magazine Launch, and that was a great accomplishment; I realized that unless I go commercial there is no way I can pull off that many dishes for that many people (11 different items for 75 people). I have not made much money because most events have small budgets and I’m spending some on groceries as well as renting a Zipcar to cart things around. So I am at a crossroads of sorts needing to make a decision to move forward about beginning a small business and perhaps buying a car. I’ve been invited to participate in SF Small Business Week in May so I have to get serious soon, I think. I’m beginning with a brand new website. Stay tuned for more!
I made a trip back to Ohio after all this to visit with my mom and sister and to fly out to Maryland for my cousin’s wedding. So even though my cousin is Ghanaian, it was not a typical Ghanaian wedding with the traditional engagement rituals because he married an American woman. It got me thinking about culture, loss and preservation that is, and how somehow certain things are ok in Diaspora. We adapt to Diasporic (made it up, yep!) rules and create new customs as a result, yet even within these new customs there is rigidity about what passes, what gets ok’d, and what doesn’t. I know I’m being very cryptic at the moment but I will post a piece I wrote on this later.
I am chipping away at the memoir steadily. I have to turn in a reasonably sized thesis on the 12th of April. I am determined to be ready for this because the closer I am to a clean copy, the easier it would be to find my agent and publisher.
Finally, the biggest news of all is that I am going through the process to become an U.S. citizen. I am learning things I didn’t have the chance to learn because I didn’t do high school in the U.S. I feel rather proud and excited knowing all these founding principles.
Thank you for reading and commenting and I hope you will enjoy some of the pieces I post next. I promise not to be gone for so long next time.