All posts tagged African


Published June 30, 2013 by Sandee


At the bus stop, on my way to work, a woman came after I did, beginning a competition to board first.  She inched her way beside me, amongst others who were more or less orderly.  Generally people respect the ones who were there first.  Though aware that it was stupid, I couldn’t help myself and maneuvered between the people to stay in front of her, and she did the same, so we got to the steps of the bus shoulder to shoulder — like fucking idiots.

She dipped her Metro Card into the fare box first, winning the competition.  “You are so rude!”  I said, repeating, “You are SO rude!”   The woman, from Africa somewhere, wore a long head covering (a burka maybe) with pink and purple circles and a tunic with similarly colored circles.  She wore black pants and sandals beneath it.

Again I said, as I tend to focus and drive it home, “You are SO rude!”

She said in a melodic accent, “I don no why you doin’ chop chop!”

Oh I know why I was doin’ chop chop —  I was a fucking idiot with a toothache who had slept very little the night before.  If this woman had done this another day, I would have gladly stepped aside to let her on.  Today my spiritual energy was low.

I eventually worked it out, going easy on myself for behaving badly.  As an old man from Harlem said, generally, “If someone steps on my foot in the subway station, I apologize.”  It’s not that I’m a pussy, it’s because I understand that we’re paranoid, scared, defensive, and carry a lot of baggage, etc., and I’d like to be as helpful as possible.  But I know this shit will happen again because I’m not Saint Auntie Sandee.  But when things like this do happen, I wonder how I might do better next time.

Walking to the bus stop after work I thought about ‘chop chop’ lady.  The bus comes and guess who’s on it? — ‘chop chop’ lady!  She was smiling vaguely.  I had to smile too.

The bus got crowded.  A young couple got on.  The woman asked to sit in the inner seat next to mine.  “Sure,” I said, rising to let her in.  The man stood by the outer seat next to me and chatted with her.  Later, the person behind me got up.  The man sat in that seat.  I turned and said, “Let me switch,” so that he could sit next to the woman who got on with him.

“You’re a nice lady,” the woman said, and her male friend thanked me.  “Thanks again,” she said down the road when they got off the bus.  “Have a good evening,” I told them.

So.  I’m redeemed.  How nice if we could be like this all the time and not have ‘chop chop’ lady incidents?

I wondered if seeing ‘chop chop’ lady again meant that it was synchronicity, a sign that I’m supposed to be communicating something.  So I wrote this.  But this wasn’t the only interesting synchronous-ey thing that happened this week.

A few days ago on the way to work I thought, though I’m not influenced by mainstream ideas and think for myself, I’m not getting any validation from the tribe.  I don’t have any ‘certifications’ — so to speak — since I’ve rejected certain ‘customs’ and ‘rituals’.  I’m not trying to be hip, this is just the way it is, from when I was young.  Maybe I just have some kind of syndrome.  Anyway, I muse, while I think for myself, etc., I’m kind of ass out, because I still need to have some validation from my tribe, right?  So I get to work and read this companion pamphlet to an installation in the gallery where I work.  It talks about mainstream influence on thought patterns, group mentality, and how most people desire validation from each other in a society, etc.  And I think it basically criticized sheep mentality.

Synchronicity.  Holy shit.  Great.  Then I read this blog post yesterday, ABOUT synchronicity.  Wow.

Last week I wrote a post with some divergent ideas about society.  I wondered if this message from God and the universe means that it will be received better because of the coincidence of thinking about what it is to be different and having that thought validated by the pamphlet, and it all being in line with the different perceptions in the post I wrote about society.  What am I supposed to do with synchronous moments?  Are they the universe’s brass ring?

“You Think Your Father’s Superman!”

Published June 19, 2012 by Sandee

I used to think that when my dad died, I would die.  There was just something underneath it all between us.  I used to hear him in my inner ear from time to time – while he was still alive.  He was an artist, a very sensitive man.  But he died and I didn’t die – I became more in touch with the beauty of existence, I think partly because I know that was his legacy for me – to live.  I’ve only gone to see his urn twice because he isn’t there – he’s every where, and he’s not really dead.  I wish I could post this really cool picture of him from the early seventies.  He’s at a party sitting between two seventies-looking women with long hair parted down the center.  He wore jeans and he leaned back with his legs crossed — I imagine they might have passed a joint around at some point.  He’s got his head thrown back in laughter.  He’s wearing a beard and slightly messy afro.  He looked like a rock star.

In 2003, he had an arrhythmia and had passed out before they found him.  While he was in a coma a lot of people from disparate ends came together in the hospital, friends, family, students – my mother from whom he was divorced and stepmother were in the same room – even my mother’s sisters were there.

He was a strong influence on me.  At one time I believe I tried to emulate him.  I begged him to let me wear his dungaree jacket that he had embroidered for himself in the early seventies and this African beanie hat that one of his clients had made for him.  I was “Little Joe.”

My father meant to stay with the family until the bitter end but a divorce initiated by my mother was really warranted.  They were just 18 and 22 when they married and though my home life was not tumultuous, they weren’t compatible.  They gave me a brilliant childhood, however.  They were married twenty years.  It was hard for him in the beginning – he felt everyone had turned against him and that he had failed.  He took me to the circus (I was 20 years old) after the divorce – it was melancholy and reminded me of the circus part of Peggy Lee’s song “Is That All There Is.”

He insisted on being in my baby sister’s life and there was no fight from my mom about this.  My dad took her every summer and on weekends and eventually she went to live with him and his second wife.  My parents were civilized about their separation.  My father would precede a minor complaint about my mother with “I hate to talk about her but…”  And if I said anything negative about my mother he said, “Now don’t talk about her like that.”  But my father wasn’t perfect – God knows that!  When I look back I realize that both my parents were adolescents who were growing up with us, and I got some of the best ass-whippings this side of the city!

As an adult on my day off, I called my dad and said, “Let’s go to the beach.”  He came and got me.  He fished and I sun bathed in the sand yards away.  I’d crane my head up to see him in the water up to his thighs, sunglasses on, fishing pole out.  At the end of the day, he gutted fish for me to cook.  It was one of the best days of my life.  When I was in elementary school a little girl yelled at me, “You think you’re father’s Superman!”  Well he wasn’t, but I feel damn lucky to have had him in my life.

A Correction for My “Kabuki Sandee” Post of 4/20/12

Published April 24, 2012 by Sandee

Correction:  My sister is MOROCCAN Debbie, not EGYPTIAN Debbie.  She called to remind me.  Something did seem off about “Egyptian Debbie.”  My mind’s foggy.  I don’t sleep, so I don’t remember properly.  How could I forget she’s Moroccan Debbie?  Sorry sis for confusing these North African regions and the origin of your make-up stylings.  I was on the right continent though.  She would never forget that I’m Kabuki Sandee.

People often ask why the area under my eyes is red.  “What’s that there?”  They say pointing.  “Oh, it’s just some ‘ol rouge,” I tell them.  It’s embarrassing but what am I supposed to do?  I like rouge high on my face – never did really learn how to put make-up on.  Rouge is all I wear, usually.  I fell in love with it a very long time ago.  My cousin Cheryl used to make my face up when I spent the night at her house.  “Ohhhh, look at Sandee.  Now what is that you have on there?”  My Auntie Lillian said.  I was six.  “Cheryl put mascara, eye-liner, lipstick, blue eye shadow and some marouge on me,” I said.  My hair was in cluster curls and I felt like Shirley Temple — Shirley Temple–black (tee hee!).  They thought it was so cute that I’d said that.  I found out later that you say rouge, not marouge.  My little cousin once called a roach a roacher.

I bet I messed up a lot of words when I just learned how to talk.  I remember when I was two and had my diaper changed on the sofa.  I can’t recall who changed my diaper but whoever it was used powder.  I also remember the same year that I waddled to my baby brother’s crib and snatched the bobo out of his mouth and he cried.  I don’t remember saying anything during these two incidents, so I can’t tell you how I might have butchered up any words.  These are very early memories and a lot of people don’t remember anything at all even from when they were six or seven.  (Why is it that I remember being two but can’t remember Debbie being Moroccan Debbie?)  It may seem odd that I remember being two, but my ex told me about a man who claims remembering coming out of his mother’s vagina.  My ex is on the serious side and he said it with a straight face.  I laughed so hard that I started to choke.  I wish I had been there to hear it when the man said it.  I wrote a poem called “Your Room Looks Like the Inside of a Vagina.”  If I find it, maybe I’ll post it on my blog so you can tell me what you think.