tired. oh, so tired…


Right now I’m sitting in front of my computer processing news from back home. I’ve been glued to the news, my Facebook feed, the New York Times web page, wondering how this could happen. How in a land where dreams are to come true and everyone is created equal, a grown man shooting a defenseless teenager is okay.

Reading the New York Times headline first thing yesterday morning just left me deflated. It left me with one single thought I’m tired of this bullshit, America. 

I’m tired of a great nation finding it hard to let people have their rights. I’m tired of the massive amount of stupidity being displayed at Senate hearings in Texas. I’m exhausted about hearing the rhetoric about the right for same sex couples to be together or question their rights to then create families. My ears want to bleed every time a talking head refers to nationwide healthcare as a Socialist ideology. When in fact, it is simply just the construction of civilised nations, regardless of political structure and stylings. I slammed my head into the wall when I read headlines, that in this day and age, we’re still questioning the fairness for people of a minority race to vote. And then the judicial system fails massively. It fails at a case, that is so simple to convict on it leaves you dumbfounded and speechless.

Seriously America (and especially Florida) an unarmed teenager was tracked down, followed and then killed by a grown-ass man. A teen walking down the street with snacks. A teen without a weapon. A teen, whose face, wasn’t filled with hate, regret or rage – just opportunity and a bright future. This should have been a no brainer. And thinking about this yesterday, I realised that I’m just so tired. So tired of the abject thinking, bad concepts, horrible news of narrow-minded thinking that comes from what use to be a great nation.

But I haven’t given up hope. I will hope that logical voices and thinking will rise. That the people that still live there will continue to fight. I’ll praise the women in Texas who will continue to battle on for their rights. That more rallies are held and that there are still people strong enough to fight – to fight tirelessly for what is right.

gluten-free blueberry muffins


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It all started with Burs first trip to the states to meet my friends and family. I had created a long list of all the food he needed to try: Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits, Popeye’s butter biscuits, Cinnabons, Ray’s Pizza, General Tso’s chicken. It was a bonanza of wheat/gluten constructed food and he was posed with fork in hand, ready to gobble it up.

But by day two, (which had only been an Auntie Anne’s pretzel and an amazing dinner of chicken fried steak and battered okra) he was down for the count. His stomach was not liking this culinary exploration. My normally bubbly and hungry man, was reduced to a lethargic, bloated mess. Of course, he kept eating what I suggested, until he got ill. And as we sat going over what the element that wasn’t making him feel good was, the only stand out ingredient was wheat. 

Since that time three years ago, he’s monitored what he eats and how he feels afterwards. It is always crap when a large amount of wheat is consumed; one cookie – fine. A big bowl of pasta – not fine.  Piece of toast – okay. Stack of pancakes – horrible.

This is what has lead me to begin baking gluten-free. Without the ease of throwing a bagel in the oven, Burs found that he was hungrier than usual. A bowl of oatmeal could only carry him so far. And it was better for him to carry snacks then depend on what would appear for lunch at a meeting.

A google search for gluten-free recipes will bring you a cookbooks worth of choices and options. I started off with muffins and cookies because, well, they’re tasty and quick. My issues are with the wide variety of flours you’ll read about: sorghum, tapioca, millet. And let us not forget the massive alert of potato flour versus potato starch (be sure to not confuse the two). I decided to start with simple recipe: Gluten-free blueberry muffin.

I got my recipe from Damy Health. I chose it because it’s main non-gluten ingredient is almond flour. Simple. It takes 15 minutes to whip up and 20 to bake. I was sold. These here were the first batch I made a month ago. photo-20

However, they looked a wee bit sad to me. I wanted them to look more like the ones you see at Costa Coffee/Starbucks. You know, round, raised top, the kind where all you want to eat is the muffin top. Luckily, google had the answer. Which is what the pic on  top and blow resulted. Nice! The secret: It’s all in how you heat your oven.

ImageSo I figured I’d share. On the second batch, I also altered the amount of honey, otherwise they’re a tad bit bland. Go to the link above and follow the recipe with the exception of pre-heating the oven to 450f (220c) and adding 1/2 cup honey (if you chose another sweetener it may be too sweet).

When putting the finished mixture into the cups (or directly into the pan because they do stick to the cups) fill them to the top not just 1/4 of the way. A 1/4 of the way gives you my initial muffins (or the ones that are pictured on the site). Filling them all the way gets you closer to cafe quality muffins. Next – and this is important – put the muffins in the oven at the higher temperature for about ten minutes. You’ll see the muffins begin to rise and form the raised shell. After ten minutes, lower the temperature to what was recommended in the recipe, letting them bake for another 10-15 minutes. Check to see if they’re done, if not, give a wee bit more time. These had the exact shell that I wanted and were the right level of sweet too. Definitely will repeat again.

My friend…


Since January 25th, Lil Burs thirteenth birthday, a lot of what she says starts off with “Well, my friend…” Understand, that if it begins with that statement, nothing good is to  follow.

Of course, it’s to be expected. She’s 13 now. The start of her leaving the beautiful innocence of childhood behind and jumping head first, with a blindfold on, into the glossy glimmering idea of attaining freedom. Or the gleaming, uninformed ideology that teens hold on the idea of becoming an adult (before, you know, actually being an adult with the responsibilities, bills and commitments).

But the hardest thing has been how to share these funny experiences, via the blog, while she’s growing up and going through it. With the birthday, Lil Burs has flung herself not only into the rebelliousness of teenness but, also into social media. She’s on FB religiously, keeping a watchful eye on all that is said and done. So I took a moment to figure it out.

Then yesterday, lil miss came home with a third of her eyebrows missing. And the first thought was the blog, I just had to share the story (but sadly, without a picture. The pic below looks better than hers right now).

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If you guessed that it began with “My friend…” then you’d be correct. And went on to explain she’d threaded off of her eyebrows. In between moments of laughter and telling her how incredibly ridiculous she looked, I discerned that 1. a friend who’s mom threads was giving a lesson to a group of girls, 2. each of them thought of practicing on themselves, 3. no one else went home missing the majority of their eyebrows – that honor is held by her.

And so, I’ve decided that these things need to be shared. One for sheer humors sake because it’s either laugh or slam your head into the wall. And, more importantly, as a future reminder for her. Because for the life of me, I can’t remember any of the backassward events from my teen years (though I like to think there weren’t any) unless I read past journals. And lil miss doesn’t keep a journal, so the responsibility remains with me.

I’m sure they’ll be far more tomfoolery to be had.

 

from a different view…

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The first time I say this poster, Burs and I were walking out of the cinema after seeing Looper and there across the wall was a poster for Tarantino’s new film. I hadn’t heard anything about it. And that was the first time I’d seen the poster. But seeing as how I’ve seen every Tarantino movie, I immediately got excited to see this one.

Even though it looks like a western. And I hate westerns. But it’s a Tarantino film and I have to see it. I penciled in January 18th in my mental diary and began looking forward to the date.

Then the reviews and comments about the movie began to enter my stream and I finally found out what the subject of the films was – Slavery. I began to read reviews about another movie about slavery being made. I was sent comments cursing out Tarantino for even attempting to tell the story of a black slave. I read op-ed pieces about the experience of being a black man watching the movie in a room of white people. I read a diatribe from a white reporter belittling black people sensitivities to movie and its subject matter.

A lot of people had a great deal to say on the subject.

And yet, in the UK, it’s hard to find any information on this movie. At all. Ask someone about it and they, like me, are just excited that there’s a new Tarantino flick. Being black and from America, I’ve had a few conversations with people about it and the over- whelming sentiment is that they’re all – white or black – amazed at how fresh the slavery wound still seems to be for Americans.

Which leads me to explaining, not for the first time in my lifetime, that the history of American slavery isn’t my history*. And that though I’m amazed at how fresh the wound is for some, I can understand it. After all, the oldest American died only two weeks ago but I believe that she was born in 1898 and though slavery was suppose to be abolished in 1865, there are some records that claim it should be written as 1928 instead (because people don’t change their ways too quickly). There are people my age who listened to stories being told by their grandparents which helped keep the wounds fresh, even after all these years.

All that to say how incredibly refreshing it is to not be in New York having heated discussions about the weight of the film on society today. How amazing to have be just a film. A film telling a story of years gone by. A film using flourishes to make an interesting and visually captivating story. Because, nearly everyone I’ve spoken to in London, sees it as just that. Slavery, on their home turf, isn’t their history either (of course, Burs does note that, Britons did partake in slavery but only on other peoples soil, never their own. Which doesn’t make them better, just a wee bit smarter).

So I’m going to see it. Most likely in a theater where I’ll be one of maybe five black people in there, sitting beside my Scottish (read: very white) husband. And I will enjoy Tarantino’s cinematic genius for what it is.

*My family and several generations back from that stem from Haiti. Which became a free country from French rule in 1806. And yes, the generations before them probably were brought to the island of Haiti via slave ships but there’s only so many generations I can keep count of, so anything that happened before either of my grandmothers, I don’t count as my own. And since both of the matriarchs, on either side, were born in the early 1900s on the island of Haiti, that is where my story begins.

oh, I’m too late but…

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HAPPY NEW YEAR anyway.

I’ve been so busy getting right into my goals for the year that I haven’t had the time to sit and write. But I have to say, that I feel like I’m off to a good start.

So far, I’ve signed up to be a volunteer/mentor at Ministry of Stories. A great place that works on getting kids to love writing and storytelling. Of course, I tried to sign-up at the end of 2011 but those hoops I was talking about earlier, this is the place that had me jumping (and when you’re working with kids, it should be just so). But I finally made sure to have all my ducks in a row and filled out all my paperwork and signed-up for my sessions. So that’s one thing off my goals list.

Secondly, I’ve officially finished my second full-length feature film. WHOO HOO!!! And this one, I actually really, really like. Sure, I see two, maybe three more rewrites coming my way but I know exactly what needs to be worked on. And once I’ve completed two rewrites, I will let other people set eyes on it. This is all so very exciting!

There’s been a great deal of time spent outlining and researching other ideas too. I’ve also been busy producing a short film. I need to add more to my reel and website – partnering with other filmmakers is the way to go.

So there are good reasons for why I’ve been lax on my holiday wishes. And yes, there’s still so much more to get going this year. The search for a paying position has been taking up quite a bit of my days and yet, still the results are no better than before (unless the hubs and I suddenly move out to Cali) and procreating is still far in the distance but you have to cheer the smallest of progress. I hope you are too.

Here’s to 2013!

the end…

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The end of existence is fast approaching, if you believe the Mayans. Though my focus is more on the end of year. I’ve been pondering this fast approaching date since the start of December. There is a feeling of staleness that has been sitting with me since the fall.

Back in 2009, I’ve had big goals, big ideas to work toward. At the start of that year, I began the idea that I needed to move out of New York. A large chunk of the year was figuring out where to go and what to do, until I came across a graduate program in London, UK that was starting in February 2010. The start of 2010, found me relocating; adjusting to a new country and student life nearly ten years since the last time I had been in school. The focus for the year was to write, network, and enjoy the experience (where I was hopeful for a romantic experience too). The idea was a to spend a year in London – a year – and then go where ever the wind took me (which I was hopeful would be Paris, France).

Funny thing about that wind, it has kept me in London. By 2011, I was putting the finishing touches on my first screenplay, filing paperwork to remain in the UK and planning a wedding. A wedding!! Which if you believe what you read in magazines and see in movies is the holy grail of womanhood. And that one activity, occupied nearly all of my brain power in 2011 and until February 2012.

But since that has happened, I’ve been floating about listlessly. Don’t get me wrong. I blame the post-wedding high I was on from February until, I’d say, August. But after having returned from our honeymoon (which was in August) I’ve just been existing. 

Of course, I’m writing. An activity that can consume an entire day but render you a mere page to show for all your hard work. I’ve thrown myself back into the activity to get full time employment which, sadly, still evades me. (Though, I’ve sought advice and have learned that I’m approaching a creative job like a lawyer – my cover letters are very serious and lacks any funny or interesting sense of self.) I’ve tried to volunteer. But I’m not flexible enough for that level of hoop jumping. Then I tried to get an internship again but, seriously, I just can’t imagine starting at the bitter bottom again.

So I remain where I am. Not moving forward. Not growing.

And if you’re going to suggest having a baby to me, you know, to have a new experience. Then you’re a silly fool who has never spent a week with a baby that you can’t return. You do it because YOU. WANT. A. BABY. Not because you’re in a lull. And I’m try to have a real conversation here. Moving on…

The plan is to strategically plan what my resolutions, nah goals are for the start of 2013.  I want to be prepared going in. I need to have a plan of action. And am taking suggestions. Seriously, I am. Currently in the forecast is 1. continue looking for film production work with a new cover letter and a sense of humor 2. bump the film production work and, instead, try to get a creative writing gig at a university/college 3. scrap the whole work thing, for more education and apply to get my PhD (it can be done in 3/4 years here) in film studies or 4. nope, that’s all I’ve got. There is no fourth plan. I really wish there was though. Did I mention, I’m taking suggestions. I want to ride the positivity of a new year starting with bright eyes and activity!!!

inevitable…perhaps?!?

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We’re always looking toward the future. What will be tomorrow? How will we age? No matter how you try to focus on the here and present, you cannot help ponder what the future holds. And with that, you can look to your family to help get a bit of a forecast of what is to behold.

A recent conversation with Caraballo had us discussing our minds. Both of us have grandmothers who suffer from Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. Over the years, we’ve shared our concern that that may become our futures too. That we may be part of the family history, where our memories evade us, loved ones faces become strangers and our comfortable surroundings become unfamiliar.

It’s a terrifying thought. But during the conversation, Caraballo said something that has stuck with me ever since, “I should start trying to be a kinder, better person now so it’ll reflect in my character later.” We chuckled at such an idea because, we are who we are. And some of the worse of us can be on display if we lose our firm grip on our minds. We both have stories; seeing the good and sometimes the horrible in women who were matriarchs of our families. We hope (I really, really hope) that if that is what the universe deigns to be our future, that we will be the best persons we can be. But the thought, if I can truly have an impact on that now, has been needling my mind.

Recently, I came across this TED talk. It is one of many talks that has moved me. Someone else, outside of my circle, is talking about preparing for Alzheimer’s. As in, she is aware that she may fall into the same fate as her father and wants to do what she can now, to go through the experience later as best she can. And I cheer her!

Because to sit ideally by and think ‘It won’t happen to me’ is silly. We know that it is a hereditary disease, just not exact how it is passed down and who, in a family of five, will be the unlucky hosts.

So, I too, am taking steps toward bettering myself. I’m trying to find activities to help with ideal hands. Of course, I’ve tried knitting but am working to get better at it (and am even trying my hand at crocheting, just in case I’m better at that). I continue to listen to music because that is the activity my paternal grandmother finds most interesting (humming songs that she loved from the twenties). And continue to be a kinder human being while fighting the desire to gossip or judge people rentlessly (I do that quietly to myself). Because in the end, either the good or bad will be on display. And it is kindness, good memories and love that will keep people by your bedside through the hard times.

cultural differences…

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So just now, music was playing and I looked up from dinner and turned to Burs to say ‘Oh wow, this sounds just like the opening from Welcome Back, Carter, doesn’t it?!?’

I was greeted by a blank stare.

Today, loads of TV shows make it to the UK and thanks to BBC America, vice versa. But when it comes to things from the past, we’re usually at a lose. It isn’t that Scotland didn’t get shows from the states; he’s seen The Cosby Show (of course), Mork & Mindy, Moonlighting, Dallas and anything incredibly popular from the 70s. But such shows as 90210, The Golden Girls, Murphy Brown, Roseanne, Family Ties, A Different World, 21 Jump Street, The Nanny*; the sort of shows that are engrained in me and ready to be referenced at the slightest note heard, statement uttered, outfit worn, tends to not have the same memory spark for my partner.

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Of course, the same can be said for me and things like Black Adder or Faulty Towers. Which I’ve sat through with nary a smile to be found on my face. (Not everything is written as well or is as funny as Absolutely Fabulous.) 

In the beginning we tried to expose each other to something they hadn’t been exposed to. We tried it out with comedians. It didn’t go well. He didn’t get all the race jokes from a Katt Williams routine and, once again, laughter wasn’t found on my end with any of the British comedians he showed me (so little effect they had on me that I can’t even recall names).

But we power on! I do my best to not point out that the sweater his friend was wearing must have been Dr. Seavers**. But when I recently made a joke about an acquaintances husband’s (possible) name being ‘A Pimp Named Slickback’*** he got it! And now when he does a whole funny walk thing, I understand where it originates from. It’s all a work in progress.

I get that we could have far more and worse cultural differences (though, I guess, we probably wouldn’t have made it this far if we did). And that being in a relationship is about growing together. Our continuing to find each other interesting enough to learn, avails us more TV watching time where we get to cuddle/snuggle-up on the couch. Which is a win, whether your laughing at what is on or bored out of your skull!

And we haven’t even started with movies yet! He’s never seen Say Anything, St. Elmos Fire, The Big Chill. The list goes on… 

*In my defense, The Nanny reference only comes in because the youngest actor on the show is in everything right now and I was explaining this. It wasn’t about viewing pleasure. Don’t judge! **This is from Growing Pains! And it was during the era where all TV dads wore horrible sweaters (see the Cosby Show). ***From The Boondocks. And seriously, this “acquaintances” husband is who Katt Williams used to develop the character.

blessing, put on hold…


Being of an immigrant family, I always wondered why my mom threw herself into Thanksgiving day festivities.

My mom was great at it. She’d start planning weeks in advance and spend nearly two days cooking. It was largely that we never had less than twenty people convening around our table to break bread. Which, of course, requires a lot of food.

When asked, “Why’d we start celebrating Turkey day?” My mom explained that she fought against it for a long time. But eventually, the inundation we got at school worked and she folded against her kids whining about celebrating Thanksgiving. Then in time, she grew to love the togetherness of family and friends and appreciated the idea behind the holiday.

I am currently being battled, in the same way, by Lil Burs. From the first time she heard about a holiday with a deep connection to food, she’s been pleading for it to be reanimated at our dinner table. It started with a photo of sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top and continues with a slew of other dishes that she hasn’t had the pleasure of consuming. Sadly for her, she’s got me as her non-biological mom.

This has never been my thing. Sure, I enjoyed hanging with family but I could see them any day of the week. Food. Not a fan of turkey. Or cranberries. Or green bean casserole. Over all, not having or celebrating this holiday doesn’t make me sad or envious of others who are. I’ve seen my living in a country that doesn’t have Thanksgiving (or any massively celebrated holiday, other than Christmas) as a blessing! A joy! The place I’m meant to be.

But that blessing is being put on hold.

Today I awoke to Lil Burs planning on cooking Thanksgiving dinner. She was online looking at pictures, reading recipes and formulating a series of questions. So she, is doing what we did to my mom all those years ago. Forcing you toward celebrating whether you want to or not.

She gets this one. And next year, it will go back to be unnoticed. YES!

 

 

where I repeat myself…

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One thing (of many) that connects me and the hubby together is our unwavering love of all things french. We love the cheese, the wine and our constant battle at learning the language. A battle we plan on winning since we fully plan on someday – before some random guy throws dirt on us (well, on him since I plan on being cremated) – that we will have lived in France. And to live in France, we want to be fluent french speakers.

Which is why when Burs read an article in the Guardian about this new language learning site, he had to check it out. At http://www.memrise.com, they’ve created a fun and helpful way to learn any number of languages; by creating mems or mnemonics, which are either sayings or pictures that will help the new words be less forgetful. Then the site will constantly test you on those words which, should help, make them less likely to be forgotten.

I’m nearly always a sceptic about these sorts of things but Burs’ excitedness can be infectious. And what do I have to loose by participating . After all, I’ve studied it in school, had it spoken to me at home, have spent time on flashcards, used Rosetta Stone  and even hired a private tutor – I can add one more thing to my vast mountain of me trying to become fluent in french.

So Burs and I signed-up for the 1000 word challenge.

People, I’m already 150 words in and don’t now how people do this. Thing is the first 50 were words I already knew – faire, avoir, être, dans, ici, manger. Easy peasy. Then the program through words at me like le pintade (guinea fowl) and les cuisses de grenouille (frog legs), which are 1) things I will never eat 2) which then makes them hard to remember. Or words that prove to me how little I know of french because I have 850 more to learn. How in the world will I retain that is beyond me but am a bit excited at the dusting off of cobwebs in my brain. It hasn’t been this active in ages (as far as learning something new that is).

I highly recommend Memrise. I cannot implore enough people to get on it! We should all, at the very least, be bilingual. Souhaitez-moi la chance!