In this city, this congested, smoky city, one has two options. One can either live with the rot, the filth, the pathogens and the deterioration or one can simply clean the rot. There is one clear option for me – CLEAN!
Every time I look on the street on my way to work, it’s there, festering, growling, lurking, mocking and sticking onto every passerby. They are the germs, the pathogens, the dust, the mould, the rotting diaper and dog crap. All is there, sitting, hiding in the dumpsters of the streets. Everywhere one steps, it sticks. Sometimes I wish to stop and pick every bacterium off the bottom of my shoe, the hairs of my coat and my actual skin.
I loathe it – the germs, the bacteria, the dirt, the oil hanging loosely in the air being sucked into my clean lungs and my body. I loathe its trickery, it mocks me. I walk fast from work and I remove every item of clothing and wash it in disinfectant. I must! Allowing them to harvest eggs onto my clothes and my body sickens me, annoys me and makes me desire to regurgitate. I dip into the bathtub and my mantra awakens: scrub and clean, scrub and clean, scrub and clean, clean and scrub! I know that when I’m fully cleansed, my skin will feel wonderfully sore. I must quickly remove myself from the bath for the germs will return, they always know their host!
I get dressed and scrub the entire apartment clean. Beauty is a price paid daily and cleaning the house is no exception. I clean the house till it’s spotless, then clean again in disinfectant. I must clean it or the germs will wreak havoc on my world! They are disgusting and must be fully annihilated. Germs kill two million Americans a year. I cannot be killed. I cannot be killed. I cannot be a breeding ground for the parasites of the invisible world. I must fight, even though my husband had allowed himself to be taken over by the dust and the grime of The Apple, I cannot.
I am at war with the germs every day. I am at times fearful, cowardly, but I must always remember that cleaning brings a peaceful rest at night and that life is already too short to allow myself to be taken over by the two billion types of bacteria and scum. I must fight this good fight; buying and using all the Clorox, Lysol and Ajax I can get in. I must scrub the counters, the sinks, vacuum the carpet. I must clean the windows; wash the clothes, the sheets, the bedspreads until they are at peace because the germs have retreated.
I read the paper today, after covering my hands in gloves to avoid any new breed of bacteria from the print shop. I read that the human lips has at least one million strains of bacteria and the human skin for every cubic centimetre has at least four million bacteria and dust particles. I was appalled, and my effort felt dejected. For all the powerful cleaning I have done, especially in the bodily area, were all in vain. Bacteria have festered and will fluster wherever humans live, wherever humans trample and sought to form a new variety in their gene pool. But what will I do now? Will I become another subject of the king virus or king dust-bunny?! Will I become like other humans who accept the germs as they are and sought to live with them, like them?! Must I now stoop and live at their level of disorder and chaos?! I will certainly not! I will certainly not! I will certainly not! I will improve my efforts; man more of my battle stations with more disinfectants. Either that or die trying! And if I am forced to live in a bubble - a germ free bubble, I will do so with bells on my feet and a grin and taunt at the germs themselves. I will not be subject to new authority! I will certainly not!
- Dispelling the Myths of Green Cleaning (greenne.com)
- An Antibacterial Cleaning Solution That Is Eco Friendly Too (daimerindustries.typepad.com)
- The average kitchen sink harbors more germs than a toilet (greenreview.blogspot.com)
- How Cleaning Green Can Improve Your Life (newfrontierslifecoaching.wordpress.com)
- Surprising Places Germs Can Hide (everydayhealth.com)
So I’m at a hip-hop concert…
The scene is set: music blaring, people shouting and we indulge it all.
We sing, laugh, we etch the night into our memories as “The Best”.
The patriarchal lyrics are sordid but of course we insist it’s culturally reflective of our struggle.
We vibe, we smoke.
We’re 18, young and full of colossal naiveté.
Tonight, one friend invited another.
We stood next to each other and I passed her a smile. She giggled and placed her hand on her chest, belting out: TUUUUUNNNNNEEEEE!!!!!!”
I knitted my brow in quiet shock.
Porcelain-toned, excited, wide-eyed; she loved hip-hop.
“Nigga you don’t knoooowwww!!!”
I had a number of friends who skipped over it.
The question to its current relevance, its cultural impact, and unfair usage [“But why can’t we say it?!”] was never discussed, it was understood.
But she belted it out defiantly, smiling, one hand in the air, no mercy.
My friend tapped me and pointed. We stood staring at the new problem.
Nonchalant, she clapped.
Our eyes stared trying to reprimand her. But she was calm and ready for the next song.
18 and naïve, we never thought to have a collective will to understand our history and defend its evolution. We never asked “Why the women? Why the lyrics? When did degradation become Hiphop’s torch? Where had the artistry gone?”
Black power tees, ankh necklaces and large hair; ethno-centricity was our motto, our trend, but we had no depth.
18, serious and resolved, we sent the brave to her fort:
“Hey, you don’t need to say Nigga…”
“Why not? It’s just a word…”
No one ever mentions the whispers in the dark.
The codes lovers send to each other through the silences.
The emptiness that rides at midnight on the trains of thought.
No one ever seems to have a solution to the war, the greed, the paucity of my morality.
Not even death has meaning. Death has left me cold and unmoving.
Questions reign, questions which fill me with religious guilt.
Questions of destiny, love, purpose, choice, chance…life & resurrection.
No one has any answers, all are but assumptions.
You are what you philosophise to be.
Dark, looming, uncaring.
This world seems at peace when my dreams are undisturbed by the monsters which prey on my fears and insecurities.
No one understands the enormity of my hindsight and my regret.
Yet everyone knows of heartache and reminiscence.
Is my perception skewed?
This is not art, this is not release, this is inner tumult stabbing my sanity.
But I’ll empty this bottle and no one will suffer through my sobs.
“Catherine Flon was the god-daughter of Jean Jacques Dessalines and played a huge role in the Haitian Revolution as a nurse. She is not really remembered and revered as nurse, but widely recognized in all Haiti as a heroine for sewing the first Haitian Flag in Archaie and a national symbol of freedom.
The blue was taken to represent Haiti’s black citizens and the red the gens de couler (people of colour). The coat of arms depicts a trophy of weapons ready to defend freedom and a royal palm for independence. The palm is topped by the Cap of Liberty. The motto is on a white scroll reading L’Union Fait La Force (Unity Makes Strength)”
To the ancestors who bore the whips and bricks of slavery and led us to freedom, I salute you. We raise our heads high, we’ll never forget our ancestors & strengthen our backs to build our country with stern diligence and complete reverence.
With new promises, and new dreams, Haiti, you are endeared, you are inspiration, you are my blood.
Koté Haïtienne yo?
- Haiti’s new president promises reconstruction, a new era of modernity – Modesto Bee (news.google.com)
- Martelly promises free education and other changes in first speech as Haiti president (repeatingislands.com)
- Gov’t to give Haitians more time in US after quake (cbsnews.com)
Chorus girls at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, photographed in 1936 by Lucien Aigner. Aigner, who photographed everyone from Hitler and Mussolini to Gandhi and Haile Selassie, was originally from Hungary. He emigrated to the United States to avoid Nazi persecution. Techincally and “enemy alien”, he was prohibited from photographing war-related subject. Talking of Harlem, He observed: ”I photographed black people when it was not good manners”.
“Pictures produce impact, writing adds meaning. Pictures without words are often ambiguous, words without pictures lame. To gather material for a written story requires painstaking, continuous effort in time while catching situations in pictures requires concentration on the instantaneous.”
- Harlem Shuffle Revisited (fleamarketfunk.com)
- One of Harlem’s A-List couples graces the cover of Uptown Magazine (harlemcondolife.com)
- National Poety Month In Harlem (harlemworldblog.wordpress.com)
- Why does Hitler get focused on more by historians than Mussolini and Stalin (wiki.answers.com)
Some days I forget that my family has the most profound history.
There was a story in the paper about a girl being so insecure and distressed about her looks that she attempted suicide and failed. I found it quite sad. I can identify with insecurity. Almost anyone can.
However my aunt said this: “Hm! Insecurity, suicide…! People feel miserable about superficial crap; try living through Baby Doc and his dictatorship! Crying over looks and hurt feelings! Give me a break!”
My mom added: “Baby Doc ruled with a whip! When we were young the biggest insecurity was failing your family and abandoning your country; everything else was irrelevant.”
Suddenly my feelings of “ugly days” came into a non-existent form and I felt bad for feeling bad. Society has made us so detached; individuals looking to reach the galaxies, forgetting to collectively care for our earth.
I am amazingly grateful for life, for love, for a career and for over-all contentment, but some days I struggle. I honestly wonder how some persons who lived through such dictatorships could come out of it and be so successful and be such stable people. To me, they are incredibly admirable. Witnessing lives lost, shattered dreams and tarnished streets with blood would have sent me straight into a mental facility. But here’s my family recollecting stories, paucity, sharing close calls with the law and death with an air of whimsicality and even then predicting future events for the county.
“…mm! I saw the cholera riots; I’m telling you, Haitian men aren’t like they used to be – their faces are masked, gas bombs are thrown everywhere and then they disappear! Like ninjas!”
Then an air of seriousness descends: “I know in the 50s and 60s it was terrible, but at least we had clean streets, tourism, and we were proud of our system in some ways.”
I read the newspapers and although the news is so heart wrenching, I admit I can’t always identify with them. I don’t know their hurt, I can’t understand their loss nor have seen their tragedy. However, there at the Christmas table, I felt my family’s loss of a country and of a better time. Do I need have to be connected in order to relate to a tragedy? Perhaps my heart is too emotionally naïve: a sense of physical insecurity, lost relationships, and failed grades are all I have to show for pain.
So what can come of my recollection?
I educate myself, I learn of the past, and though I want to see a grand change, I cringe because I have no profound ideas of my own. I can’t map out a huge economic and political strategy to save its 200 year history of failures. No matter how many Flag Days I celebrate; all I can aim for is pride and remembrance. I can earn a profession and physically lend a hand perhaps through medical aid or donation rallies, but I can’t save Haiti. So I pledge to be better, to learn and mature and go back and give back to the soil. I don’t know if that solution will work, but I can earnestly try.