three strong women-marie ndiaye

“Poor soul, who’d have thought he’d wind up a plump old bird, clumsy flying and strong smelling?” (12, Part 1)

“He’d seen Madame Menotti purse her lips in a mixture of skepticism and vague annoyance-just like, he’d said to himself, a mother who had favorites being complimented on the child she didn’t care for.” (169, Part II)

“Never once had he complained about the overwhelming presence in their life of the baby that never got conceived.” (230, Part III)

i got to the end of this book and still had no idea where it came from-how it got to me. i wasn’t blown away, but i only skimmed the middle part, and it was worth these three passages-coincidentally one from each part.

i like that these three protagonists’ stories lie between generations, and cover all the issues that come with being in that place between parents (and not quite being over the wrongs they have done before we witness them going over the final hump of life) and children (literal or figurative) and all the people in between. i like this discussion of the same issues (on the spectrum) of these folks who could be any of us womens in the world today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

thank you.

america, fuck yea.

it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

it’s been a week since the height of our time in america on the slightly ridiculous roadtrip that we embarked on from toronto to detroit to chicago to toronto to montrill.

at this time one week ago, we were getting our lives in the gorgeous chicago opera house with emily king and the alabama shakes. dear music, there is only one brittany that matters. hands down. what a force to be reckoned with. all shade to the philistines who left during “over my head”, which became my new “adore”-the show wasn’t over for me until they played it, and indeed, even though i knew it would be the end of the encore (like “the seed” at the cody chestnutt/roots show or “touch the sky” at the glow in the dark tour), it was still amazing.

on our way there, i paid a dollar for a sweet tea at mcdonald’s-which was just as good as popeye’s, and i have to give it up for the fast food and junk food options south of the border-i really do.

i am completely puzzled as to why americans have not wised up to the toxins of styrofoam, though. i felt like the only one who was even concerned, and i feel like that’s a west coast thing. but then again, i am also very offensed by the screens everywhere and the continual broadcast of donald trump, including out of speakers at the gas pump-though that’s fitting, it’s a reminder at the very place of the very resource that people are dying for every day. i sang back “bitch don’t kill my vibe” into that speaker, and i hope that prayer will be answered.

although i went to the motown museum with an emcee last time, this was a totally different experience because i am actually so moved and great-full for the music of the two singer/songwriters that i went with this time. we all cried at different times, and me most at how current marvin gaye‘s “what’s going on” is. it just reminded me that there is a precedent for black and blue lives, though i’m not sure if either matter enough to learn from history at all-but i’ll say it again, we don’t have that many moves as humans. as we descended the stairs into studio a, we all felt the spirits, living and dead, who have breathed the air before us.

i entertained the car by reading aloud from usa today, and while i harboured no disillusion that that is a reputable paper (complimentary from the holiday inn), i had no idea it was that bad. i mean-multiple stories about pokemon, a terribly written expose on crack cocaine use in brazil (“crackolandia”) on the front page of the sports section, and kimye vs. taylor-it’s beginning to look a lot like the national enquirer….

i was glad for a few days in montrill just to kick it-cooking, smoking, shopping, sweetgrass sweeping and laying low to kick it with my sistars. shoutout to bota bota for being my new jumpoff every time i’m in the trill.

my final analysis on america is that their music has always been and will always be the answer to their continued assault on love. i have every hope in my heart for our mesmerizing and ridiculous southern cousins. may you get it together sooner rather than never.

i will continue loving you from afar-this realization made clear my fascination over the years. thank you? and you’re welcome.

hashtag, moodmusics.

“then you back that ass up on me like it’s ’99, wine fine like a bottle from the ’99, hit you with the 99 like it’s fucking prime time, killed the pussy had to hit that shit like 9 times”

i love this big sean album. every single track. i don’t want to give it back to the library. i recently shared it with elisia and it elicited kanye texting, and watched it with tali in a window at the westin hotel, and we admired their creativity and cross colors jackets.

i know the lyrics are problematic, but come on-the genius of having chris brown sing the hook “i want you to take me serious” is real and true.

prompt three: they only speak the language of love (march 13, 2010)

Eyelashes-long, fluttery flirtatious eyelashes have always been the death of reason. The powder keg that precipitated the first world war in Matilda’s heart with more impact than any Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s black rose or squirrel, to the magnitude of hyperbole the death of a thousand Tybalts deep. One wink is enough to cause her to thrust all her eggs into that tested and failed basket, no matter how many omelettes were quoted to Lenin or Lennon. A curious and electrifying finger tip traced along her lips fuels images of an unrealistic and idealistic future before she even names its source. Who cares, at this moment, she’s empowered herself to call it whatever she wants. Warm breath between her earlobe and neck is just as good as an eternal promise of fidelity more clearly than never heard. Pressed against a chest, the beating heart beneath is proof of life-this is what it’s all about. They say that 85% of human communication is non-verbal, but damn do we do a number on that remaining 15%.The language of love, or imagination, the educated guess or the innocence of longing and hoping for the best-that’s the universal language of love-don’t go looking for a flowery esperanto. But how much is misconstrued in touch or betrayed in looks? Misinformed by hearts that listen to those faulty mediums we know as ears to relay messages that we’ve already formatted in lives past? Can we trust the language of love as fallacy? Are we all then just Matildas doomed to lose our hearts in the wishes blown away with eyelashes, longing?

slight editing, but only to end….the luxuries of going back years later with no time constraints….

the sellout-paul beatty (pop life-everyone needs a thrill)

“Maybe morons can’t become brain surgeons, but a genius can be either a cardiologist or a postal clerk.” (125)

“My father had a theory that poor people are the best drivers because they can’t afford to carry car insurance and have to drive like they live, defensively.” (84)

“For those looking to find the thing that you’ve lost, the decision of where to place your handbill is one of the toughest you’ll ever make in life.” (108)

“‘Now at the bottom we’ll have the Untouchables. These are the people who are completely useless. Clippers fans, traffic cops, and people who have dirty jobs where they work with human and animal waste, like yourself.’” (211)

“Daddy never believed in closure. He said it was a false psychological concept. Something invented by therapists to assuage white Western guilt. In all his years of study and practice, he’d never heard a patient of color talk of needing ‘closure’. They needed revenge. They needed distance. Forgiveness and a good lawyer maybe, but never closure. He said people mistake suicide, murder, lap band surgery, interracial marriage, and overtipping for closure, when in reality what they’ve achieved is erasure.” (261)

“Kanye West has announced, ‘I am rap!’ Jay-Z thinks he’s Picasso. And life is fucking fleeting.” (262)

“Needless to say, there’s an anger to Hominy. One that comes from not being as famous as you think you should be.” (69)

i had a recent (heated) discussion (once again) on a rooftop nursing a g&t about whether or not kanye is a genius. as per usual, the other person was arguing that he just straight up has mental problems, and as per usual, i had to make the point that it’s a fine line between true artist, genius, and mental illness.

my favourite is the metaproof here of the genius discussion. i mean, how do you bring this up, kill it, and then make a contemporary tie so neatly if you’re a genius? i’m sayin’….

the sellout-paul beatty (his-tory)

“That’s the problem with history, we like to think it’s a book-that we can turn the page and move the fuck on. But history isn’t the paper it’s printed on. It’s memory, and memory is time, emotions, and song. History is the things that stay with you.” (115)

“So like those high school white girls who have after-school sex with the burly black athlete in the wood shop, and then cry rape when their fathers find out, maybe Rosa Parks, after the arrest, the endless church rallies, and all the press, had to cry racism, because what was she going to say: ‘I refused to move because the man asked me what I was reading’? Negroes would’ve lynched her.” (134)

“If black people ever do get slave reparations, I know plenty of motherfuckers who owe Canada some rent money and back taxes.” (175)

“Unmitigated Blackness is essays passing for fiction. It’s the realization that there are no absolutes, except when there are. It’s the acceptance of contradiction not being a sin and a crime but a human frailty like split ends and libertarianism. Unmitigated Blackness is coming to the realization that as fucked up and meaningless as it all is, sometimes it’s the nihilism that makes life worth living.” (277)

“Taking my sweet time, because I knew that racist Negro Archetypes, like Bebe’s Kids, don’t die. They multiply.” (75)

“I understand now that the only time black people don’t feel guilty is when we’ve actually done something wrong, because it relieves us of the cognitive dissonance of being black and innocent, and in a way the prospect of going to jail becomes a relief.” (18)

i have been in love with paul beatty‘s writing since i first pulled white boy shuffle off tali‘s bookshelf during our summer of freedom. i had to come to toronto to access the rest of his work, but dangit, it’s been worth it. as i read over these passages again and decide their order on this mixtape, i’m thinking that perhaps paul beatty is my favourite contemporary american writer.

his titles and covers always remind me of the conversations that i’m not looking forward to having with certain people, and i like that discomfort that comes with doing bold work. i just don’t always want to be the one to field the questions. this one is next level, because in addition to the title and the cover, the plot of the whole book is one that is impossible to explain without probably finding out some things about whomever is asking that you really didn’t want to know.

i love his perfect mix of humour, awareness, and audacity. i always have.

how to read the air-dinaw mengetsu

“Is it the one who gets left behind who suffers more, or is it the one who’s sent out alone into the world to forage and create a new life?” (5)

“…drawing on every language and country he had ever known, proving that language, like memory, suffered from the same need for context in order to survive.” (42)

“But then I thought that was the problem all along, that before a family secret or past can be revealed there has to be a family to begin with, and what we were was something closer to a jazz trio than a family-a performance group that got together every now and then to play a few familiar notes before dispersing back to their real, private lives.” (152)

“There were rumors of massacres on both sides. Who was responsible for the killing always depended on who was doing the talking.” (229)

“We were both suckers for wishful thinking, and each morning, regardless of how quiet and tense we were the night before, there would seem to be the possibility that it had all just been a stupid mistake, and that whatever was wrong between us could be righted come morning by the sheer force of will and love.” (106)

“Ghosts are common to the life of any child: mine just happened to come to dinner more often than most.” (9)

“I realized….that this was how my father must have sounded thirty years earlier, when he first arrived in America with less than a hundred words to his name and no past or future tense to speak of.” (148)

“Learning a new language was, in the end, not so different from learning to fall in love with your husband again.” (3)

and, so. here is another fictional (not fictional) example of what i mean by “we don’t have that many moves as humans”. when people ask what my show is about, i don’t know why they’re confused when i say, “the same thing that every show is about-work, family, the world, relationships, love, language, art, life.” i mean, everything i’m interested in and concerned about, and curious on how other people are navigating is right (right) here.

so, immigrant tales within the context of north america (with the caveat of how the differences between us and our neighbors are subtle yet crucial), and how they translate across and within dialects and generation-this is right up my alley.

i’m pretty sure this came from the philly free library authors and writers’ series, but at this point, it could be my completist tendencies to consume every word this man writes.

today, i am great-full for dinaw mengetsu.