Today's Already History

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Wheel of Brie and Forest Whitaker

One sweltering summer day in 2010, I was trudging back from the New York Historical Society after having thumbed through dust filled books searching for the remnants of New York's slave population. I took the bus back from the Upper West side to Morningside Heights, thankful for the air conditioning. The coolness revived my appetite, so I ducked into the market nearest the apartment I was subletting, Milano Market. I didn't really know what I wanted, I just knew that I was hungry so I browsed a bit before settling on cheese and crackers.  I quickly picked up my cracker selection, Wasa, and then moved on to the cheese.  This was more complicated. I picked up a substantially sized wheel of President Brie, waffling on whether to get the larger or smaller size (those micro mini fridges in New York sublets make you really think about space).  I decided to get the smaller and as I reached to put it back, I heard a loud sound next to me:

"I saw you!  You were about to steal that!  You tried to put that in your bag!"

I looked around to see who the offending shoplifter was, shamelessly rubbernecking. Next to me stood a well set man in his mid thirties with dark hair clad in a white apron.  His narrowed eyes confirmed that he was indeed speaking to me. I immediately lost two inches in height.

"I was just browsing," I sputtered, unsure of how to answer the increasingly angry man, who demanded to search my Burberry bag.

When he didn't find anything in the bag he looked deflated for a moment and I took the opportunity to appeal again.

"See, I told you, I was just looking at the display trying to figure out what to buy."  His eyes hardened again.

"You and I both know you were trying to steal that!" he roared, loud enough that all the conversations in the store seemed to go completely silent. I stumbled to the cash register in a haze, humiliated, the man close at my heels. I quickly paid for my purchases and bound out of the doors into the suffocating heat, ran to my apartment and slammed the door, trembling.  I couldn't believe what had just happened. After a few moments I took to facebook, venting my frustration in a breezy post that mostly hid my humiliation.

Evidently Milano Market on Broadway invested in the the anti-black PhD student security system, because the managers loud accusation that I was shoplifting a round of brie have certainly repelled any future purchases...
July 7, 2010 at 3:24pm 

My friends and family were outraged and left post after post of support and indignation. People called for a boycott, for the ACLU, for SOMETHING to make this right.  When my husband arrived home from his consulting internship, he was livid. His face darkened and he tore out of the apartment. I followed him, afraid of what might transpire, but stood outside of the market too humiliated to go in again.  The offending employee was still on shift and I could see him wildly gesticulating through the glass, his voice loud enough to carry outdoors.

"I caught her, I saw her, she was definitely stealing," he said pointing an accusatory finger at me on the other side of the glass. My husband demanded a refund for the brie, which he clutched in one hand, reciept in the other.

"No, we don't give refunds for cheese," the man retorted. "And I don't have to apologize for anything."

We vowed to follow up, to make sure that they knew that this kind of behavior was unacceptable.

But we never did.  The days pass. Some friends continue to rage against the injustice while others start to question whether you were overreacting, whether maybe it wasn't racially motivated and you're just being overly sensitive.  And you start to wonder. Maybe I am overreacting?  It might have just been and honest mistake?  Why does everything have to be about race?  But deep down in a place that's rarely acknowledged that humiliation remains, festering like an old wound sloppily stitched.

About a month ago, on February 16, 2013, Milano Market finally apologized.  But it was not to me, the nameless, faceless,  graduate student who was just trying to grab some food after a long day.  It was to the academy award winning actor, Forest Whitaker, who had been frisked by an employee at the store.  The incident garnered so much attention that yesterday, March 6, it made the New York Times opinion page: The Good, Racist People. My private humiliation was finally public, but it mattered only because it happened to a celebrity.  The message to the rest of us is clear: if you're black, and you're nobody special, you're guilty until proven innocent. The wounds you bear are yours to bear in anonymity.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Once upon a time, there was a boogeyman who lived in a radio...

When I was a child I wasn’t scared of the dark. I wasn’t afraid of heights, or the water or monsters under my bed. My own personal boogeyman lived in the radio. His name was Harold Camping. In the early 1990s my grandmother had knee surgery and my grandparents moved into our house. My grandfather was almost completely blind, but that didn’t stop him from donning extremely thick glasses, grabbing a magnifying glass and reading his large print King James Bible about an inch away from his face. When he wasn’t reading the Bible, he was listening to the radio. His favorite was Harold Camping.

Every night a booming voice reached out to me promising that I would never graduate middle school, never experience my first prom, get married or, mercifully, pay taxes. The world was ending September 1994 and there was nothing I could do about it. For a long time my nights would be spent pensively looking to the sky, frightened that the moon would “turn to blood.” My baby brother would try to console me, but the world would end again and again in my dreams. When my grandfather listened to Camping, I’d grab my rollerblades and try to skate around our bedroom community, waiting for Camping to finish his program. But I would always return too soon, and the man in my radio would continue his predictions of doom.

School started and life carried me obliviously through September 1994, as it would many months after that. In fact, like most children, I forgot all about the boogeyman in my radio. That was, until Bill and I were driving across the country this past winter. The monotonous desert of Texas was punctuated by signs that promised that May 21, 2011 was the end of time. The memory of my boogeyman came back to me for a moment, and I told Bill my childhood story.

Little did I know that the boogeyman in the radio and the man behind the signs were one in the same.

The past few days have been surreal. My boogeyman went viral. The New York Times, Forbes and even international outlets ran articles about him. Kim Kardashian tweeted about the supposed “end,” and far flung friends and family joked in their facebook feeds that they hoped May 21st wasn’t the apocalypse. But like a warm September month over a decade ago, May 21 came and went. In central New York the day was sunny and hot. In California (incidentally, Camping’s home state), my brother’s phone alerted him that the word was still spinning while he watched a disaster epic. We all lived to see another sunrise and the boogeyman in the radio was, once again, silenced. But for how long…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prove it: The strange history of the “birther” controversy

There is something about the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s birth certificate that calls to mind the grandfather clauses under Jim Crow. Before the naysayers start howling that this is just another attempt to “play the race card” in Obama’s favor, hear me out. After the slaves were freed and endowed with the citizenship that Supreme Court justice Taney believed they were ineligible for due to their race; further qualifications began to arise. Below is an excerpt from Alabama’s state constitution including the “grandfather clause”:

The lawful descendants of persons who honorably served in the land or naval forces of the United States in the war of the American Revolution, or in the war of 1812, or in the war with Mexico, or in any war with the Indians or in the war between the States, or in the land or naval forces of the Confederate States, or the State of Alabama in the war between the States.

You can read the full version here

Those who failed to meet the above requirements were subjected to educational tests and property qualifications for voting. Other states followed suit. Clearly the vast majority of freedmen failed that qualification, not to mention a large number of Mexican Americans in Texas and other citizens as well. They then had to prove (despite what the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments granted) that they were, indeed, eligible to vote.

Over a century later, the first President of African descent must prove that he is, indeed, qualified under the Constitution to serve as commander and chief. He has obliged repeatedly, now going so far as to append his long form birth certificate on the White House website to put naysayers to rest. Yet, his detractors—most colorfully represented by Donald Trump—still require verification of that official document.

Perhaps there is a vast conspiracy surrounding Obama’s birth certificate. But, think for a moment, which scenario sounds more plausible:

Senario A: President Obama has forged his official birth certificate and enlisted the help of numerous Hawaiian officials so that he can unlawfully hold office as President….


Scenario B: This whole “birther debate” is really just a modern day “grandfather clause.” A thinly veiled attempt to make the first President of African descent prove that he is truly qualified to serve as President.

You decide.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hair will never "just" be hair

I admit that I am a closet trekky (or trekker, it doesn't really matter to me) and I very much looked forward to the new Star Trek movie. It did not disappoint. The actors fell into their well-worn roles effortlessly. The 23rd century imagined by the filmmakers was exciting and inspiring. It was a brave new world where starships roamed the galaxy, the fabric of space time was altered, and some enterprising person had put the relaxer in space.

Although many things were updated story-wise in the new version Uhura's relaxer was retained as were the sixties style uniforms of the other characters. It could be argued that perhaps Uhura's hair was just an aesthetic choice on the part of the filmmakers to tie the two franchises more closesly together, but even that had not remained the same. Her hair style was transformed from a relaxed beehive or pixie style to Lady Godiva-like tresses. As I watched Uhura whip her relaxed (probably weaved) hair through the cosmos, I wondered if in two centuries people would still be talking about "good hair." By contrast, on a much more boring sci-fi series entitled Defying Gravity, a future is imagined where all of the black characters sport natural hair styles in mission control and the Milky Way.

Does the distinction matter? Does it matter if the relaxer "boldly goes where no one has gone before?" Isn't to relax or not to relax, just a matter of fashion?

After a long hiatus I am back. Much has happened during my time off from writing. One of the biggest developments was that I cut out the last of my relaxed hair and went natural. Today Bill sent me this link from the New York Times about the enduring politics of black hair entitled "Black Hair Still Tangled in Politics". I quickly read it and found that article did the same thing that many articles on the subject do - surveyed the whole gamut of hair opinions, and then ended by asking why black hair just can't be hair and wondering if in this post-Obama world the choice to straighten or not to straighten will not be one of existential significance for African American women.

One thing that I don't understand is why it is so hard to make an argument nowadays when it comes to matters of racial or cultural experience? Well I am going to say what is quite obvious to most black girls at the age of around eight when they are asked by non-black friends why they don't do this or that with their hair: Hair DOES matter. Obama's election has changed much, but we have not entered a shangrila of acceptance where Black hair is just hair. I learned this lesson early on, when as a young pre-teen at summer camp I was barraged with questions about why I put a garishly pink lotion on my hair, why I slept with a satin night cap and didn't wash my hair everyday. The rub was these questions occurred after I had endured a Herculean effort to burn my hair straight with lye.

One of my favorite comments in the NYTimes article was from one woman who said that the older generation of women from her family who live in Ghana straighten their hair. This, she offered, as proof that to straighten or not to straighten is not a political statement, it is just a simple fashion choice. And perhaps that would be true in the dimension where Africa existed in a vacuum and wasn't profoundly affected by the same historical racism that affects the United States. Black natural hair, in Africa as in the New World has a historical significance that belies any effort to make it "just hair."

My own hair decision was about 1 part curiosity, 1 part fashion, and 2 parts "statement". Whether I want it to or not, my hair speaks even if my lips remain silent. When I was a child I was maligned for "talking white." I still don't understand that distinction, but I do understand that growing up in private schools, dancing ballet and listening and playing classical music gave me a certian degree of disconnection from black culture. I wasn't totally disconnected - I had the stories my parents and grandparents wove for me about our past in words and in food, I had the jazz my dad played on the piano every night. But when I left the insular world of family, I existed in the dominant culture and I did not feel as much a stranger there as I did at school dances when someone turned on hip hop and the black kids started dancing and I stood trying to transform the positions I had learned in ballet into what they were doing on the dance floor.

Cutting my hair did not suddenly tune me into the collective "black" cultural expressions that I couldn't engage in comfortably as a child. But it did connect me to something. Something older than myself. Something stronger than just my existence here and now. Something that will last past my own fleeting time on earth and might even explore the cosmos. Hair does matter and I hope that never changes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cabin Fever

Spring break is coming up and I am excited. It is sad to admit, I am excited because of the opportunity to research without that pesky class load always getting in the way and not because of some tropical escape. I do look out onto blue azure waters every computer background of Curacao's shoreline appears on two monitors...but that is a close as I am going to come, at least until the reasearch funds come through. Then I will get to see the inside of an archive on the carribean paradise when the sun is high in the sky. Still, I am not complaining, its Curacao!

For now, I will escape with my compy background and pictures of warmer times. The best remedies to keep cabin fever at bay!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Survey Says…Its all your fault

Many women's first work experiences read the same–the low pay, the demeaning tasks, men with half their education and work-experience getting hired at double their salaries. My own Harvard degree mocked me from its gilded frame on the wall of my micro mini apartment. It was a golden ticket alright, but I was not playing the part of Charlie Bucket. During those grueling experiences, many women long for a break in the storm, for someone to just play by the “rules” – they long for an answer to why things are so unfair.

It turns out the answer was right before us all along…the problem, it seems, is us.

In “Girl Power at School, but Not at the Office,” Hannah Seligson narrates an early job experience that reads eerily familiar to many women. She writes of unequal pay and highly qualified women becoming “‘assistant-ized’—saddled with all the coffee runs and photocopying.” She chronicles female/female job sabotage and pay discrimination. But ultimately, her focus is on the “young women…getting in the way of their own success.”

How do women get in the way of their own success, according to Seligson? By carrying an unsuccessful toolkit of resources into the work world. In fact, she argues that “we need to build a new arsenal of skills to mitigate some of our more 'feminine' tendencies.” No. No! NO!!!

The answer is not to conform to the status quo, but to bring change to the work world. It is not to learn how to “grab a beer” with the guys, but to forge new ways of building networks. It is not to scrap “the more traditionally ‘feminine’ trait of sensitivity” (whatever that means), for hard-nosed terseness. And, contrary to popular misinformation about what women have been up to for the past eons of history, it is not sitting around isolated on their own personal domestic islands.

“Women don’t have as much of a tradition of business networking,” Seligson asserts. Oh yeah, says who? Women have been networking amongst themselves and with men, for centuries. The interpersonal skills garnered from these encounters are just as valuable as those gained in a smoking club.

We need to honor our history, honor the invaluable work that we have already brought to humanity, and the networks forged by women. We need to bring our presence into the light that it deserves and demand that conditions improve for women in the here and now. Are there things that each person can improve on individually? Yes. But, the unfair experiences that women face in the work world should not be cause to denigrate that which we deem different in ourselves as of no account. It has its dignity too, and should be respected, not repressed.

I was born around the same time as Seligson, in the early 1980s, but I had a different experience. I saw women discriminated against, left and right. I understood the struggle that was before me. Perhaps being both African American and female highlighted that struggle and the existence of glass ceilings even more, but one thing that has been imprinted on me during my brief tenure on the planet is that there are still many fights to be waged in the battle for equality. Now is not the time for conformity, but for courage.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Charity Begins Online?

During the summer I have found myself on various online forums and boards. One thing that I have noticed is that people are so much more blunt on boards then they are in person. In person, most will try to sugar coat their thoughts and curb their baser instincts – at least in public. Not so on the web-board. Ironically in a forum that has an edit function, it seems as if people are much more free with themselves, to the detriment of cordiality.

The internet has been blamed for much, but could it be that the net is also the place where civility goes to die? “Tell me who your friends are, I’ll tell you who you are,” is a maxim that was oft quoted in my house growing up but now perhaps the little zingers left on boards scattered in cyberspace are the truest measure of an individual’s charity.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What A Finish!!!

Congratulations to the USA women's crew team and the Netherlands women's crew team!

Friday, August 15, 2008

This Ain’t Your Yuppie Mounds trip…

This morning Bill shot me an article from the New York Times travel “escapes” section entitled "Ancient Midwest." There is a beautiful picture of ancient mounds in the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ohio, and a ethereal caption that announces that the serene scene is non-other than “Mound City.” But there is a modern day “Mounds City” and a smaller town holding the “Mounds” moniker just miles from the Illinois Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site that won’t likely make it to the New York Times travel page. It is in those Mounds, and their surrounding areas, that the treasures of summers with my family; grandparents, great uncles and aunts, cousins lay hidden.

When I was young, my entire family would pile into the car when it was still dark and start the long journey from the Chicago area down the entire length of Illinois towards our summer house in Mounds, IL. Now, we were not ignorant of the Cahokia sight, for as long as I can remember my grandmother saw fit to educate everyone on the local history, as well as some family folklore. As my parents team drove my grandparent’s 1978 powder blue Cordoba across miles and miles of flat countryside grandmother would quiz us on what we knew of the American Indian Mounds builders and share the story of her great grandmother’s flight from slavery in Alabama with her infant daughter (my great-great grandmother), a flight that brought her to settle right over the Mason-Dixon line, but divided her family. And my grandfather would quiz us on the Bible.

The Mounds of my youth was filled with as many attractions as Disney World; the family homestead in America that my grandmother’s father built by hand and still remained standing after decades of tornadoes, the Dollar Store where everything was just one dollar (Now I seem to see them everywhere but in the eighties it was not a common sight in the Oak Park area), Bessie’s restaurant where you could get fried frogs legs, the Future City sign, right outside the Cairo overpass, which stood in an empty field of tall weeds and grass, an advertisement for a city whose construction would remain forever in the future, and Shemwells restaurant in Cairo, the home of the best barbecue sandwiches on earth.

There was catfish fishing at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio, boat riding along the Horseshoe Lake, and scores of family cookouts. Yet, we never made it to the Cahokia Mounds Site. It remained woven in with the folklore of the region and the stories of slave escape. And now perhaps the passage of time has knit the Mounds of my youth within the fable. It will certainly never be a destination covered by the New York Times, but it will live on in the stories that I pass down to the next generation. But if you do visit the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, might I add a dining recommendation that also did not make it into the article…Shemwells is a must visit!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Bottle of Contact Solution Goes Kaput and Dracula’s Storm rolls into Boston

I passed the last hours in Amsterdam as I did the first – largely unconscious. As if my body were preparing for the time shift ahead of time, I found myself struggling to stay awake the whole day. After rooting out a seat on the train to Schiphol airport next to the public toilet and wishing for nobody to utilize the facilities only to see our hopes dashed at the very last moments before the train pulled out, we successfully found our way to our departure gate. Yet, we had to look twice at our tickets, which read a boarding time over an hour and a half before the plane actually took off. It turned out that security was, in fact, at the gate. We made it past the first two gatekeepers (I even threw in some Dutch which got a smile out of the agent) but Bill’s contact solution that had served him well through many a business trip did not survive the Atlantic crossing, meeting its demise in a blue trashcan at the gate.

The flight was smooth and comfortable, and the food was exceptional. We were extremely impressed. After high praise from Bill for the book The Historian, I started to read it on the flight. It was as good as he had said, and very creepy. Not giving anything away, the book is a take on the Dracula legend. That being explained, when the plane came to a soft landing in Boston, the weather suddenly turned south. It was literally like the storm that always followed Dracula blew into Boston Harbor. It was so bad that we sat a few feet from our gate, unable to move into position because the tower would not give us clearance to pull up to the retractable walkway for fear that the workers would be struck by lightning. But we made it back none the worse for wear, filled with fond memories of the Netherlands.

*Click on the picture for the full album of photos in the Netherlands!

Of Waffles and Masterpieces

The last full day, Saturday, found us in full tourist mode. We walked around the city for one last hurrah, shopping for souvenirs and soaking in memories. We could not go in the palace because it was closed for renovations but we went window shopping at the Magna Plaza and wandered through the Nieuwe Kerk, which was holding an exhibition called “Black is Beautiful.” We finally made our way over to the Museumplein, visiting the Rijksmuseum which was slightly smaller than usual due to construction, followed by a quick walk by the Van Gogh Museum. We got some extraordinary waffles at a stand on the Museumplein and then strolled our way by a save the pigs protest, back towards the city center, passing the Vondelpark and Leidseplein on the way. When we finally caught the tram to our hotel, we were exhausted but happily so – the weather that had been sunny all day transformed into a steady mist. Quintessentially Amsterdam!

To den Haag and Beyond!

The national archives in den Haag was everything that I hoped for and more!! The hour long train ride to the diplomatic capital offered wonderful vistas of the pastoral Dutch countryside. Even in the face of missing the train stop by one station and a walking detour that took us past the archives by about two kilometers, we successfully navigated our way to the archive, which was nestled in a street framed by buildings that resembled an industrial park one might find if jettisoned forward in time at EIGHTY EIGHT MILES PER HOUR!!!! At the very tail end of my research, after pouring over a binder of codes and collections list (my elementary Dutch being stretched to the limit), I was able to get a very exciting lead on my research! I exclaimed and audible “Yes” and probably caused those around me to think that I had lost it :-). When the archives closed, we got on the train headed back to Amsterdam again and enjoyed a round of celebratory archive-find drinks! Proost!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Raincoats, Mini Stroopwaffles and Warme Chocolademelk

Today saw both rainclouds and another cruise ship roll in. Turns out, the PTA (Passenger Terminal Amsterdam) next door is, low and behold, a docking point for cruise ships! You can read all about it at (or for those of you who spreken Nederlands, So, as the high seas creatures of comfort huddled near their climbing wall to avoid getting wet, we marched out into the elements to find some rain gear.

Our trip took us over hill and dale and man-made harbor walkways to de Bijenkorf, described by Frommer's as "Amsterdam's answer to New York's Bloomingdale's," where we found a cute white rain coat for Nicole, but a dearth of men's raincoats for me (Bill, guest blogging for today's post). But, never fear! A quick jaunt across Dam Square (avoiding the Trams and mad, wet weather cyclists, of course) took us to Peek & Cloppenburg, described by me as Amsterdam's answer to New York's Target.;-) A few Euros later, I was wearing a black raincoat far too stylish to come with its own rollup bag, even though it did.

Of course, once we had our raincoats and had filled up on mini stroopwaffles, warme chocolademelk and cappuccinos in de Bijenkorf's first floor cafe, the sun broke through the clouds, sending the cruise ship passengers scurrying out into the city for trinkets and souveniers in their waning moments at port in Amsterdam and leading us to the only logical end point for two Americans who had too much exercise and ate too much sugar -- a nap back at the hotel, followed by lounging in the spa, and late night archival preparations for Nicole.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Anne Frank Huis

Today we got a late start but it was a gorgeous day. We attempted to bike over to the Rijksmuseum but somehow got turned around so we found ourselves at the Anne Frank Huis instead. After enjoying tapas at a restaurant next door to the museum, we got in the long line that wound its way around the museum. The experience is something that I will remember forever. It was incredibly moving.

"I don't believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have rebelled long ago! There's a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder, and kill. And until all of humanity, without exception, undergoes a metamorphosis, wars will continue to be waged, and everything that has been carefully built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and destroyed, only to start all over again!"

- Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One Good Archive Deserves Another

Archive day finally arrived! We woke to find a huge Carnival cruise ship docked in the river IJ right outside our hotel. It was so large, even though our room is on the sixth floor, the top of the ship towered above us. We biked out to the Stadsarchief Amsterdam (the Amsterdam municipal archive), whizzing past the shopping district, Dam Square and the national monument. After finding a bike parking place along the Herengracht, we grabbed a bite to eat – I got a chance to taste some real uitsmijter (Dutch fried eggs on incredible bread)! The archive building was old and imposing on the outside, but inside it was very sleek and modern. After the archives closed, we sat on a park bench along the Herengracht and watched canal tours and families on private boats drift by as I planned my next day’s research. Yet, the day was not all work and no play. On the way home we stopped by Dam Square and went to the Bijenkorf for some shopping. My trip to the Stadsarchief Amsterdam revealed the need for another archive visit in another city…the Hague!

Monday, August 4, 2008

West-Indisch Huis

Today we biked around the city, scoping out the best way to hit all of the sites and archives. At the bike rental under the hotel, we got some great bikes and trekking advice. I also got some extended language time! A quick trip to the C1000 supermarket led us on an adventure in IJburg and then we were off to the center of the city. After locating the West India house, we found some delicious Indian food on the Haarlemmerstraat, and then wound our way through the streets and over the canals of Amsterdam!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Caffeine, Bitterballen and Saint Nicholas

Our first full day in the Netherlands has been one of discovery. Sunday morning brought with it the longest extended time I have spoken Dutch since arriving…at mass at the Sint Nicolaaskerk, right across from the Amsterdam Central Station ( St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Amsterdam and, also, the saint from whom my name derives). It was such a treat!!

After mass the day became overcast and rainy – perfect for exploring the hotel! The Mövenpick’s sleek style coupled with its, spa, and trendy bar makes it one of the most modern and comfortable hotels that I have stayed in. The room is pure compact perfection!

After several rounds of caffeine – red bull, double espressos, and cappuccinos – to ward off the lingering jet lag, we ended the day with a great glass of beer, oude kaas, sausages, bitterballen and some warm apple pie…lekker!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Will Posterity Care if you Were Portly?

Even though I have started to fill my days with history reading I can't shake the feeling that occasionally enters my brain like a nervous tick; I feel excessively rotund. Now this is not going to be the start of a weight loss blog, but rather a rumination on why those thoughts fill up so much of my head cavity.

Rarely have I wondered when thinking about a historical female subject whether or not that person had a healthy BMI. But so much of my own thought revolves around how fiercely the moon is pulling me down to earth. But it isn't just me. So many conversations that I have had with girlfriends, female relatives, strangers on the street devolves into a dirge to how fatty a certain food is, how much weight so and so has gained, and what diet plan works or does not work.

Were our great-great grandmothers secretly obsessed with how closely they adhered to the physical norm that existed in their own minds? And how will the incessant calorie, fat and carb counting of our own lives translate to the pages of history? Is it something that will be captured in an archive? Even if it is, will any scholar think it important?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What archive could reconstruct the hours of time spent staring at a screen..

Starting my reading list for my impending A exams and getting my website back up and running has made me realize that I spend an awful lot of time staring ahead, completely immobile, my mind far away. As I think about my plan of attack on getting to the archives in the Netherlands, I wonder about what moments of my own life will actually leave a footprint. Will a developer inadvertently stumble on my long forgotten grave causing a flurry of scholars to descend and rifle through my bones spitting theories about why I decided to be buried with a fabulous necklace wrapped around my waist? Will my social security number be all that survives (gasp, horror, that's like something out of an Orwellian nightmare), or perhaps my trash? How will future generations write the hours, years, decades of inert time sitting in front of books, computers or TVs? Will it be a pillar to the ultimate cruelty? When noxious ships pulled into New York Harbor three hundred years ago New Yorkers complained of the stench but not of the injustice of the people cramped inside.

Will another someday write that while millions lived on $1-2 dollars a day struggling to find clean water or to dodge ethnic cleansing or religious persecution, an army of others sat and stared blankly ahead at a binary code of bright colors.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Struggling, struggling, struggling

After much struggling I have finally gotten this blog up and linking back to my site. Who knew it was soo tricky?